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Tag Archives: soul

I’m The Man (You Can Tell Everybody)

I think it was the late great Bob Marley that once said that “the thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain”. I don’t think there has ever been a more eloquent observation in regards to the power of music and its impact on the human spirit. The very best of music lifts your spirit. As a long time lover of words some of my favourite songs bear great lyrics as their hallmark. That being said if there is one thing that moves me more than words it’s when those words are sung beautifully over a soulful beat. The very best of music pulls at my heart strings. It tells a story. Sometimes it’s my story. And other times it just allows me to live vicariously through the experiences of others. The very best of songs feel like they were sung by that one person who gets you. That person you don’t have to explain or justify yourself to. They just get you. It inspires you to be better, to love and accept yourself and your story not matter how ugly that story is.

 

All this rings true when I listen to Aloe Blacc’s (famous for the ‘I Need A Dollar’ theme song to the short lived How To Make It In America TV series) breakthrough single ‘The Man’ of his Lift Your Spirit Album. Some music aficionado’s might also recognise his vocals on another more recent track, Avicii’s hit dance song ‘Wake Me Up” which (unfortunately) he wasn’t credited for.

 

I know that a song is good when I wish that I had written it and find myself doing renditions of it every other morning during my showers. In those moments I imagine myself on stage belting out the lyrics and the crowd loving every bit of it … Allow. What I love most about ‘The Man is that it reminds of the person that I am. On the song “The Man” Aloe Blacc radiates unflappable self-assurance and the song’s lyrics sound powerful without drowning in conceit. It moves me viscerally and it makes me fall in love with myself and my story all over again. It’s a beautiful reminder of where I have been and where I am going. It resonates with the dreamer, believer and achiever in me.

 

Over the Easter break I have deliberately made an effort to spend time doing things that I love that I haven’t really got to do because you know…life. I have tried to just be still in the moment. I have avoided retreating to nostalgia or fretting about tomorrow. I have just embraced the present. The now. I have had more time to just sit and do nothing but listen to the radio most of the day without any distractions. And to read a book. Something that I haven’t done so far this year. Over the last couple of days I started and finished reading “Samarkand” by Amin Maalouf. It such a captivating story that is grand in scope, piercing in its insights and poetic in its tragedy. It left me ticking and tense and wanting to tell someone else to read it, so there you go I highly recommend it. ( You can thank me later). During the last few days I haven’t run or written. I have just sat, listened to and watched the world around me, offline.

I have remembered how much I love music and how influential it has been in shaping into the person that I am today. For better or worse. For me the music that resonates is the music that triggers my excitable cells and endocrine systems. Music that makes me happy, introspective and can be a quick relief to all my worries and stresses. Music that lifts my spirits. And that is what Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” is doing for me this morning.

Whilst reading a profile Of Aloe Blacc earlier I came across this quote from him that I absolutely love that I want to share today.

Blacc who was a straight-A student who won a scholarship to the University of Southern California to study communications and linguistic psychology. “It’s kind of a nerdy interest,” he says. “It helps me to continue whetting my blade as a thinker.I don’t play the new app of the week on my phone, I play with words. I put them together in little puzzles and see how they make me feel and then do this projection puzzle to the rest of the world and ask how they will make other people feel – Aloe Blacc

I still haven’t gotten around to listening to the full album Lift Your Spirit yet but I am sure I will get around to it soon enough.
If you are interested you can read the full profile of the man of the moment in this The Guardian (UK) article in which he drops quite a few quotable gems. Aloe Blacc: The Man of the moment here

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Culture Vulture

 

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Love In The Future

Love is a hell of a muse. It’s definitely doing wonders for John Legend’s music. Granted he has always been a soulful dude but his latest offering “Love In The Future” has to arguably be his best work to date. It’s not just his voice, or even his musicality that brings it home for me. It’s how effortlessly he sets about sharing the core of who he is. For me this has always been the essence of all the great art that has managed to leave an indelible mark on my soul. It is something that as a writer I try to emulate in my own writing, albeit with varying degrees of success. On this album John Legend is encouragingly vulnerable and he displays an emotional intelligence that makes this album special, even more so when set against the backdrop of most popular R&B/soul music today. It embodies all the characteristics of grown and sexy music. It’s a breath of fresh air.

The album’s title gives a pretty accurate indicator of the album’s direction. As the album starts he sings on the title track “It’s a new year for love in the future, not the love I lost …no” On a personal level this is probably the most important message on the whole album. When I first listened to the album it made me sit up and pay attention. It sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the album. John Legend had this to say about it “The title kind of embraces where I’m heading in life, It’s the beginning of something new. It’s also the end.”

In the past I have always taken issue with most R&B/soul by male artists. This is because the majority of the time the songs are bout pining for lost love, asking for forgiveness or instead they offer a play by play account of how they intend to sex some women silly. This grates me not because I can’t relate, I can, but I always felt it was too dominant a narrative in soul music. And that is why I love “Love In The Future”. It’s a celebration of love infused with an anticipation and optimism of how that love is going to grow. It promotes stability and maturity in love and relationships.

Essentially the album plays out as a sort of love letter presumably to his then fiancé (and now wife) Chrissy Teigen. It unfolds like a concept album, speaking to the love they will grow into in the future. Each song either extols the graces of a woman or endorses the endurance of relationships. The album as a whole is sure to soften even the most cynical and jaded of hearts. It’s not cheesy in the way most pop and R&B albums tend to be. There is an authenticity and vulnerability that’s relatable and real. And the standout track for me is the piano heavy ballad ‘All Of Me’.

‘All Of Me’ is such a beautifully written and mature love song. It is without a shadow of doubt the most thoughtful, introspective, sensual, vulnerable and honest song I have listened to all year. Lyrically it bears all the hallmarks of all the songs that stay with me long after it will has been exhausted by radio. The music I return to whenever I retreat to nostalgia. The music that inspires me to moonwalk with my muse.It is a timeless. In recent memory with exception of Frank Ocean’s last offering ‘Channel Orange’ the music that has resonated with me that way has been mostly the rap music of the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole . So even though I caught on to the album later than most people, I still appreciate it just as much and I am grateful to John Legend for bringing back the soul into my playlist.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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