With the recent release of John Legend and The Roots’ Wake Up, it seems that soul music is making somewhat of a comeback. And while Legend and The Roots attempted to modernise classic soul hits of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Aloe Blacc’sGood Things offers original material using the vintage sounds of that era.
The opening track I Need A Dollar is hands-down one of the catchiest songs of the year (and next to David Essex’s Rock On, is one of the best tracks to accompany city-street walking).
The single was used as the theme for the hip New York-based series, How To Make It In America. Created by the same guys who made Entourage, the show generated the same kind of following and immediately boosted Blacc into the spotlight. After listening, this bit of information gives the impression that the album was a little rushed in order to cash in. While there are moments when Blacc shines, there’s not much here to disprove it was some kind of fluke.
The second track Green Lights does well to maintain interest, lifting the mood with inspirational themes, and Hey Brother mixes things up with a heavy, porno-style bass. Loving You Is Killing Me and You Make Me Smile continue the ‘underdog’ themes of I Need A Dollarand remain uplifting thanks to Blacc’s natural charisma and charm.
Unfortunately, Miss Fortune and Life So Hard fail to recapture the classic soul vibe, and come across as cheesy ‘90s commercial r’n’b. While the tracks offer some original concepts and intelligent lyrics, they’re wasted on tinny, looped instrumentals and cheesy back-up singing.
Blacc has done well to produce such a classic sound and still remain original, which is why it’s so ironic that his authenticity is most-evident with a cover-song. Unlike most modern-soul crooners, who try and prove their talent by duplicating the hits of Marvin Gaye or Bill Withers, Blacc makes a strange choice in The Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale; giving it a complete soul make-over and demonstrating some real potential.
While not all tracks are supported by the album’s title, Good Thingsdoes suggest that there’s still more to come.