‘An Evening with Silk Sonic’ is true musicianship

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak make the perfect soulful duo

Courtesy+of+Silk+Sonic+Official+Twitter

Courtesy of Silk Sonic Official Twitter

By Caitlin Reardon, Collegian Contributor

The long-awaited collaboration between Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak is finally here. The duo, called Silk Sonic, a name bestowed by funk pioneer Bootsy Collins, shows off their expert musicianship in an R&B album, “An Evening with Silk Sonic.”

The album has been in the works since 2017 and takes listeners through a concert-themed experience hosted by Collins. Their first single, “Leave the Door Open” set a glamorous precedent for the rest of the album after its drop in March. Fans of both Mars and .Paak anticipated the project as Silk Sonic teased listeners with four singles before the Nov. 12 release.

The album kicks off with “Silk Sonic Intro,” a minute-long introduction that interacts with listeners through Mars’ narrative: “It’s about that time to get out your seats and make some noise for our host, give it up for Bootsy Collins,” to which Collins claims his title, “Blaster of the Universe.” The opener is a quick acceleration with shouting group vocals and alluring theatrics, instantly escalating the magnetism that convinces you of the experience.

The album is heavily influenced by the 1970s, taking listeners back to velvet suits and gold chains while producing a fresh sound that lends itself to Mars and .Paak’s ear for balance between old and new.

“Fly As Me” is reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire with poppy horns and prominent bass. The track exudes confidence, as Mars and .Paak sing, “You deserve to be seen with somebody as fly as me.” .Paak incorporates buoyant rap with his quintessential drumbeats, making an undeniably cool combination of rich percussive elements that take you back in time to the disco.

“After Last Night,” a soulful declaration of love, stands out with Thundercat on bass. The track is slow, yet energetic with .Paak’s complex drumming patterns. Mars shows off his vocals through his high, strong range, which deepens the emotions of tenderness and infatuation. Thundercat is, without a doubt, the most organic choice to have on bass. His feature infuses the album with relevancy as the duo gives a nod of appreciation to the esteemed artist. The track cascades through Collins’ dreamy narrative and incorporates funkadelic elements and swooning orchestration, properly mastering smooth sultriness.

Silk Sonic’s music videos for “Leave the Door Open,” “Skate” and “Smokin Out the Window” boost the aesthetic appeal of the ‘70s with high fashion and gold lighting, mirroring the music’s luxury exactly. It’s clear Mars and .Paak are having fun in the music videos, and both play around with dramatics through groovy dance moves, funny expressions and cigarette smoking.

The closing track, “Blast Off,” is a space-themed, transcendent song that skillfully concludes the duo’s project. .Paak’s drumbeats keep the tempo bouncy, as he does throughout the entire album. His old-school drumming is certainly a major theme that makes the album stand out and enhances its cinematic experience.

Mars singing, “Blastin’ off straight to some good vibrations,” reflects the album completely. Harmonies immerse listeners in the lavish lifestyle Silk Sonic conveys, blending in the electric guitar and laser sounds to heighten intensity and moving back into celestial vocals, leaving you with a sublime warmth. Collins interacts with the audience one last time. He wishes listeners “happy trails” as we blast off into the stratosphere.

“An Evening with Silk Sonic” is a profound release that takes its listeners on a journey through time. Moody key changes and smooth diminished chords saturate each track, further convincing the originality of ‘70s music and the newness that Silk Sonic embodies. The production value is stellar as each track cohesively weaves into the next using intricate layers of instrumentals and vocals. The album leaves nothing to be desired as the duo instinctively lets different songs ride out into sensual grooves, while others have a sharp, punchy end. It shows the duo is heavily impacted by the music of the 70s and want to share that joy with the world.

You can tell Mars and .Paak enjoy jamming out with each other and exemplifying sheer talent. Silk Sonic’s release, although ample in substance, can be attributed to pure soulful magic.

Caitlin Reardon can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @caitlinjreardon.