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Silk Sonic’s origin story dates back to the European leg of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic Tour. Anderson .Paak served as the opening act for the string of shows and it’s here that Silk Sonic’s funky, free-spirited roots were planted. More than four years later, the tourmates-turned-good-friends delivered what will undoubtedly be one of 2021’s most memorable albums with An Evening With Silk Sonic. This brief, but rich musical experience, is birthed out of a few things: Bruno and .Paak’s trajectory in their careers, the combination of their respective inspirations, and a schedule that was unexpectedly freed up due to the coronavirus pandemic.
An Evening With Silk Sonic is a unique spectacle that Bruno and .Paak were kind enough to release in a format that allows us to infinitely experience this magic. From the very moment that the curtains open and Bootsy Collins’ ethereal voice seeps out, Silk Sonic coasts with no regard for distractions and an incredible display of showmanship. Collins’ multiple appearances on An Evening With Silk Sonic are key as it’s an endorsement that requires both acknowledgment and respect. Bootsy Collins, who rose to fame beside James Brown, stands as one of the front names in funk’s history. That’s on top of inductions to the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame as well as being recognized as one of the top bassists of all time.
That’s exactly what makes An Evening With Silk Sonic so special. The idea that a mere collection of jam sessions beautifully produced a body of work created in the glory of greats from the 1970s. “After Last Night,” which supplies help from Thundercat and Bootsy Collins, balances sensual and soulful with funky and yearnful. Bruno and .Paak lay stomach-flat with feet to the sky on cloud nine after an unforgettable experience with the woman of their dreams. “If I still had my phone, I’d call every girl I know / And tell them goodbye,” the duo sings blinded by love. “Cars, clothes, diamonds, and gold / Anything you want, any place you want.” This dramatic account of surefire love after one encounter is soon greeted with an equally-dramatic display of despair and sadness on “Smokin’ Out The Window” after both singers find out their newfound romance is nothing but a sham. That’s exactly how Silk Sonic’s show is supposed to be: exaggerated, hyperbolic, and melodramatic. It’s a quality that .Paak solidifies on that song. “Look here, baby I hope you find whatever it is that you need,” he says. “But I also hope your triflin’ ass is walking ‘round barefoot in these streets!”
The theatrics behind Silk Sonic’s new album, when taken from the viewpoint of Bruno and .Paak’s respective discographies, is a clash of 24K Magic and Yes Lawd!. The intentional blast to the past intertwines itself with dressed to the nines cockiness on An Evening With Silk Sonic. .Paak leads a ridiculously confident and infectiously good declaration of self-excellence on “Fly As Me,” one that also crowns a lucky woman with a top-notch title of her own. “I’m tryna love, is you gon’ love me back?” .Paak quips on the track. Towards the backend of the album, Silk Sonic gets lost in gambling and the other addicting aspects of Las Vegas on “777.” If you needed any proof that Bruno and .Paak could be the life of the party, “777” is both evidence of that and an enticing invitation to join them in some high-risk/high-reward fun.
A large part of Silk Sonic’s success lives behind the scenes. Critically-acclaimed producers and songwriters James Fauntleroy and D’Mile live within the notes of the album. Fauntleroy co-wrote three of the album’s nine songs while D’Mile co-wrote and co-produced each one in addition to delivering background vocals and contributions to the project’s instrumentation. Furthermore, Babyface’s contribution to “Put On A Smile,” a song dedicated to putting on a front through heartbreak, as well as that from others throughout the album, are notable in their own right. Together, they emphasize Bruno and .Paak’s strive to make An Evening With Silk Sonic as perfect and flawless as possible. The freedom of the album’s jam session contributes to the rawness and true spirit of the project while help from the industry’s best ensure that its rough edges aren’t too sharp.
Long story short, Silk Sonic did it. An Evening With Silk Sonic is fun, charismatic, and ambitious in all the best ways. Sure, the sonics of this project aren’t particularly new, but it’s a change in the wind direction in today’s R&B/soul landscape. And yes, maybe the album could’ve been a bit longer, but according to D’Mile every song Silk Sonic and company created appears on the album, except one. Bruno and .Paak gave us everything that had for their first collaborative effort. Soon enough, fans from all over will be able to spend an evening with Silk Sonic when the duo (hopefully) goes on tour. Once that comes to an end, An Evening With Silk Sonic will be capsuled as a moment in time for years to come. So let’s enjoy the great music and make room for the memories that will arrive with it because An Evening With Silk Sonic won’t be forever.
An Evening With Silk Sonic is out now via Atlantic/Aftermath. Get it here.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.