ALBUM: “An Evening With Silk Sonic” by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic
RELEASE YEAR: 2021
LABEL: Aftermath Entertainment and Atlantic Recording Corporation
BEST TRACKS: “Leave The Door Open,” “After Last Night (with Thundercat & Bootsy Collins),” “Smokin Out The Window,” “Skate”
FCC: Track 7 – “777”
Paying homage to the classics, this short and sweet record by Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak is a must-listen. Thanks to their stellar execution, this exciting new release manages to live up to the hype. For those who wish that R&B was more mainstream, or miss the classic soul from the 1970s that we all know and love, Silk Sonic’s debut project is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
As cohesive as “An Evening With Silk Sonic” is, this album still covers a wide range of topics and sounds. Mars and .Paak offer upbeat bangers such as “Fly As Me” and “Skate,” (although I must admit the former sounds like it was made for an Old Navy commercial), while still producing gorgeous ballads such as “Put On A Smile.” They explore feelings of love and lust towards someone on “After Last Night (with Thundercat & Bootsy Collins),” my personal favorite from the album. They immediately pivot to feeling heartbroken and betrayed on the singalong-able track, “Smokin Out The Window.” Whether they’re excited, emotional, or ecstatic, they know exactly how to express what they’re feeling.
Vocally, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak deliver solid performances, managing to blend their unique identities into a smooth, cohesive sound. Their chemistry is stellar, and it’s difficult to imagine two artists working together as well as they do. While both of their vocals showcase their individual talents and identities, they still just work together — they sound as if they’ve been singing together for years. Whether it’s due to their experience or their natural chemistry, their vocal performances leave little room for improvement.
With the majority of production done by Bruno Mars and D’Mile, the instrumentation on “An Evening With Silk Sonic” sounds exactly how you’d expect – but in a good way. The sultry, flirtatious, and emotional themes discussed in the songwriting are very appropriately mirrored by the production choices. Sonically, every song is filled to the brim with soul and passion, yet contains an impressive amount of detail. The production choices may not be ambitious or boundary-pushing, but there’s so much intent behind every decision that you don’t even notice. Additionally, it’s unfair to expect progressive production choices on an album that was made to revive and celebrate the classics of R&B.
And if we’re being honest, Silk Sonic’s take on classic soul doesn’t hold a candle to legends such as Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield. This is mainly because Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak aren’t taking themselves too seriously on this project – which makes their execution that much more impressive. They can get away with lyrics like “I’m sipping wine (sip, sip)” because their vocals and production are so well done. They can get away with production that isn’t very ambitious or experimental because every song is orchestrated in such a thoughtful and meticulous way.
While “An Evening With Silk Sonic” may not be as much of a classic as its inspirations, the amount of passion and detail on this record is too great for any comparison to be made. Mars and .Paak have further proved their capabilities as musicians and producers by creating a project that not only celebrates the music of the past, but is capable of standing on its own. Silk Sonic clearly knows how to deliver; let’s just hope they keep delivering.