REVIEW: ‘An Evening with Silk Sonic’ lives up to awaited hype upon release

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(Graphic by Marshall Sunner | Collegian Media Group)

With the groove and rhythm of Anderson .Paak, the unlimited vocal ability of Bruno Mars and the flare of Bootsy Collins, Silk Sonic’s debut album, “An Evening with Silk Sonic,” has found a way to bring the musk, chest hair and raw sex appeal of the ’70s and ’80s R&B to today’s music scene.

The pairing of .Paak and Mars is a match made in heaven. The talent displayed between the two artists throughout this entire album is almost too much to handle at points.

I personally love both of these artists. I’ve been listening to .Paak since his album “Malibu” came out in 2016, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been singing Mars’ songs about catching grenades and ‘talking to the moon’ since 2010.

While we’re on that topic, this is not the same Bruno Mars we’ve come to know and love. Mars took an interesting yet positive change with his music style — in my opinion — with the release of “24K Magic” in 2016. The Mars we see here leans heavily into the “sex symbol” icon idea that we’ve seen with artists like Prince, Marvin Gaye and most notably Teddy Pendergrass.

This is something I’ll hit on later when I start talking about the songs themselves.

I think the best comparison I can make here is to imagine if Earth, Wind & Fire were to release an album today — this is exactly what it would sound like. There definitely seems to be an influence from the funk and jazz powerhouse throughout the album, and I cannot say enough positive things about it.

Songs like “Fly As Me” sound like they took the backing tracks from “Let’s Groove” and “Boogie Wonderland” and had .Paak put his own lyrical flare on top of it.

If you break the album down song by song, however, you’ll find that all eight songs and the intro track clearly show the best parts of both artists, along with the influences they brought to this project.

Let’s start with the three singles released ahead of the album: “Leave the Door Open,” “Skate” and “Smokin’ Out the Window.”

All three songs give off a different vibe on the album and are some of the strongest tracks. However, it’s hard to pick a favorite song when all of them are so good. There are a few songs on the album that are definitely better than others, but all of them are good enough where they could stand alone and be fine by themselves.

When “Leave the Door Open” was released back in March of this year, I think it really set the tone for what was to come. The harmonies play perfectly with Mars’ vocals, showcasing his impeccable vocal talent throughout the album while also matching the rhythm and flow of .Paak to create a beautiful, almost ballad sounding open to the album.

“Skate,” which was released next, has a very reminiscent feel to .Paak’s “Malibu” album and his 2019 album “Ventura,” making it seem like he had the most influence on this track. It’s bouncy, fun and will definitely have you moving around at your desk, much like I am while writing this review.

The sound isn’t anything we haven’t heard before, which is something I enjoyed. It’s more about the two artists making the music and adapting their skills to fit into this realm of R&B.

“Fly As Me,” “Skate” and “777” have more of a “.Paak sound,” whereas a song like “Put On a Smile” has more of the “Mars sound” that we’ve heard in the past.

The last single released before the album was “Smokin’ Out the Window.” This is a song where we see a different side of Mars I mentioned earlier. This is no longer the same guy who is going to sit down at a piano and sing about catching grenades and wishing he was your man. No, this Mars is the polar opposite, and it really shows in this song — more specifically, with one line that went viral upon release.

The entire vibe that .Paak, Mars and the rest of their ensemble brings to the table only helps sell the concept of the genre they have dipped into.

The background dancers, the elaborate sets and the way .Paak and Mars completely bought into the look and embody this era of music physically, which helps the “world-building” aspect of their act and has me completely bought into everything they are doing.

This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the inclusion of Thundercat and Bootsy Collins — both of whom are familiar with this genre of music themselves.

Having Collins serve as the M.C. or “host for the evening” gives the album a sense of direction and helps add to the illusion of being in a club in the late ’70s, early ’80s. We hear Collins most prominently in “Silk Sonic Intro,” “After Last Night” and “Blast Off.”

Thundercat brings his excellent sense of rhythm and talent on the bass guitar, adding to the groovy sound of “After Last Night.” The talent displayed in this album is incredible, and the hype surrounding its release is well deserved.

The final song on the album, “Blast Off,” brings us an almost five-minute epic that pulls together all the elements of the album into one final send-off.

You get the horns, strings and background vocals coming together while .Paak and Mars’ harmonies play off one another, building to the halfway point of the song. We then get a breakdown leading into a gut-wrenching guitar solo that evokes the feeling of “Purple Rain” as it takes you to another universe.

The song then slows as we hear echoes of vocals fading into the distance — as if the band was riding on a shooting star, taking them back to the funkadelic dimension they came from.

“An Evening with Silk Sonic” is a fantastic album and is available to stream any and everywhere you listen to your music.

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