You might be familiar with Aloe Blacc from his hit single, “I Need A Dollar”, heard at the beginning of each episode of HBO’s How To Make It In America. But Aloe’s been around for years, first debuting in the late 90′s as one-half of Emanon, a group formed with west-coast producer extraordinaire, Exile. But this was years ago – neither artist had come into their own in those early years – as Emanon was almost a practice run that would lay the foundations for their respective careers. Aloe debuted as a solo artist with 2006′s Shine Through via Stones Throw, an excellent – though slept on – body of work that showed off his talents as he effortlessly toured through various genres of black music. With his sophomore set, Good Things, he takes a more focused approach, nailing classic soul.
Thanks to it’s runaway single, all eyes are on Aloe with Good Things, many assuming this is the debut album of an artist that sings soul music exclusively. But with Good Things, he does it so well, you’d almost rather hope he did it exclusively. It’s not spoiled by industry evils, suggesting that it should have a more “modern” sound. He’s carved out his own niche with beautifully breezy tracks like or the title track itself, “Green Lights”, “You Make Me Smile”, or “Good Things” that will reel the listener right in. Meanwhile, politically charged tracks like “Miss Fortune” and “Politician” are the types of tracks John Legend and The Roots would cover, had they been released 40 years earlier.
However, where Aloe really grabs the audience is with his more emotionally packed numbers. Both the ominous flavors of his Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” or the heavy love song “If I” go right for the jugular. But the crown jewel? Easily “Momma Hold My Hand”, one of the most brilliantly penned, heart-string tugging tracks of the year. All you mama’s boys out there, see if you can hold it together by the time it’s four minutes are up.
Aloe Blacc showed his versatility on Shine Through, flexing many styles, and nailed one genre perfectly with Good Things. It’s clear that he’s got many tricks up his sleeve – perhaps maybe an Emanon reunion LP – and long, storied career ahead of him. One thing’s for certain, with such a wealth of talent inside him, he needs to release albums a bit more often. Good things are sure to come.
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