Summer is nearly here! And what better way to find the warm vibes flowing than with some supremely soulful sounds? With this in mind, here are our picks for the best R&B rhythms and slices of soul come july 1st.
- Solange – Cranes In The Sky
Solange’s 2016 hit is often a cool, refreshing accept the R&B genre.
Blissfully minimalist, yet beautifully deep, Cranes In The Sky is pure poetry, the restless a feeling of getting away from a family member echoed inside ways she tries to fill the empty space in their own life (‘I regular sodas it away’, ‘I tried to dance it away’).
The imagery of solitary birds swooping over calm waters, suppressed by heavy steel clouds, is evocative of the a sense loneliness. But this can be quickly soothed with the gentle, mellow tones of Solange’s vocals and the reassurance from the backing vocalists (‘Don’t you cry, baby!’). The minimalism of the strings and bass provides the sensation of spaciousness, further asserted from the expansive landscapes depicted in their own music video.
This quiet exploration of Solange’s inner world evokes a sense healing through music: her vocals take centre stage in a fashion that is powerful, but simultaneously delicate and subtle – allowing herself the area being fragile.
The music video is a creative investigation of themes of struggle and empowerment; Solange’s solitary scenes are contrasted against group shots of herself with other black women, artistically shot, bodies draped over each other in a fashion that echoes classical art.
There can be a sense of intimacy in her group shots, the ladies touching the other person’s skin in ways that suggests connection and familiarity. The use of colour inside the clothing and backgrounds, and the method that Solange positions herself appears almost saintly, the slight movement of her hands and eyes bringing life as to what would otherwise be described as a freeze-frame, and the feeling of finding myself a full time income painting.
Cranes In The Sky is often a deceptively subtle quest for inner feelings of loneliness, and also the healing power of belonging in the community.
- Erykah Badu – Didn’t Cha Know
Listening to Didn’t Cha Know seems like an aeroplane flight in clear blue skies.
The bass riff is fluid and melodic, complimented perfectly through the soaring melodic tune with the keyboard and Badu’s light, airy vocals, and grounded by earthy drum beats. Badu takes her cue from old fashioned R&B and soul to create a track that is modern, minimalist and unquestionably unique.
There is a roaming air to the track which contributes to the sensation of travelling through life experiences; in her music video, Badu is really a nomad roving with the desert, the floor dry and cracked beneath her boots.
Her dress is white up against the scorched sienna earth, unquestionably futuristic which contrasts while using retro feel from the melody and the naturalistic method that she connects with the insects and reptiles in her environment.
Her train drags behind her in a manner that is practically bridal, as she mission to find her lover inside wilderness, yet she actually is alone, curling up in her own dress to attend sleep since the night falls.
When she finally comes to the oasis, she and her lover reunite, their thirst for the other quenched inside the still waters.
Badu is an artist who weaves together the threads of freedom and imprisonment, opulence, and hardship, to form an expansive desert tapestry. Didn’t Cha Know is really a warm, sun-filled delight of your track, along with the perfect accompaniment to the blistering summer rays.
- Sade – Smooth Operator
This 1984 soul hit by Sade is really a timelessly cool masterpiece, containing continued to feel fresh almost 3 decades on.
While the track wasn’t as successful within the UK, Smooth Operator would have been a breakthrough track within the US, and it conjures up images of simultaneously slick and sleazy jazz bars, frequented by playboys and conmen to deceive unwary women out of their money.
The saxophone can be as suave and sophisticated because swindler depicted within the video, adding a nostalgic atmosphere towards the 80s classic. Smokey and sultry, Sade is a Smooth Operator herself, a talented bar singer bathed in red lighting because hustlers bustle around her, taking advantage of her affections.
- Daniel Caesar and H. E. R. – Best Part, A Visual
Opening using the crashing sounds of waves for the shore, Best Part, A Visual is definitely an intimate inside glimpse in the bliss between lovers. Caesar’s smooth vocals are complimented by dreamy guitar and elegantly simple percussion, the female vocals of H. E. R. adding an ethereal echo to his earthy tones.
The melody is warm, sweet, and is like bathing in sunlight. This can be a euphoric, tender track that captures the essence of latest love.
- Dylan Sinclair – Home
Dylan Sinclair captures the essence of soul in Home, with melancholic vocals contrary to the backing of swaying electric guitar sounds.
Despite the mournful lyrics, the melody includes a soothing air; the recording features his lover in bed in a sun-bathed field against clear blue skies as they walks from his car over the dusty soil to sign up her.
He pictures her because he drives away as part of his car, later sitting alone because same field, as she takes his place inside the car alone. He appears lost while he wanders the area, watching the sun set in the horizon.
Dylan’s vocals capture the essence of love around the rocks; sweeping skilfully through highs and lows as he narrates the story of separation and longing.