Saturday, February 22, 2014

437 of 1001 Albums: D'Angelo's Brown Sugar

I haven't heard an album that sounds this sexy since Marvin Gaye. The sounds are very 1995, and I have to say they are quite catchy. It's some of the most relaxing music I've heard. It doesn't take itself too seriously, but the mood is good for winding down to if you've had a long day, or you're looking for something to be a backdrop to your romantic dinner.

History: The debut album from D'Angelo would land in 1995. The sound of the album does remind you of older hip hop and the mix of what was modern in 1995, and this can be attributed to the fact that D'Angelo mixed the vintage recording with the modern electronic ones. D'Angelo was multi-talented enough to handle most the aspects of recording this album. He could perform several instruments, and had the vocal talent that was inspired by his gospel music upbringing. Most critics really loved the album, and the album would become a chart hit upon it's release as well.

Vocals: D'Angelo has some intriguing and talented vocals. He's been compared to some pretty huge names like Sam Cooke and Prince. The falsetto voicing seems to be rarer with guys, but it's showcases a lot of talent, and with the instrumentals the songs just flow very well as you can hear how the voicing is moving with the music. You can also hear a lot of D'Angelo's own influences though. For people who like the gospel sound there is heavy inspiration from that, but also it's meshed with the popular hip hop tones of the time.

Instrumentals: The instruments you hear on the album are attributed to D'Angelo for performing. The most notable instruments you hear on the album are the use of the organ and the electric piano. While it bases the songs in some of the traditional sounds you are also getting a modern flare with the instrumentals. You also hear a variety of other instrumental talents though like the guitar, saxophone, and other instrumentals the give it the sexy vibe that the album does contain.

Recording: The recording was uniquely done all by D'Angelo. While he enlisted some help his ability to have talent on multiple instruments and also sing left him with the ability to save money and mostly do it himself. The album though does sound like something dated to 1995. Using instruments and engineering at the time that might have been fun to use and innovative at the time can always heavily date an album to that time when things were just beginning to trend as it does here.

If you like old school hip hop or R&B then this is a highlight of that genre. Plus, there is just a lot of talent, and it's very easy listening that isn't overwhelming to take in if you're looking to feel a bit more relaxed. It's probably the closest I've got to enjoying an album in this genre so far where I felt like I really enjoyed listening to it. Just know you won't be getting anything deep out of the lyrics though.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

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