Sep 2013

Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics (CD)

For the first Delfonics album in many years, the legendary soul band’s singer, William Hart, teams with producer Adrian Younge (Ghostface Killah, Venice Dawn), who writes dreamy compositions with era-appropriate production for the group, now in its 80s. Just as the group once performed iconic songs like “La-La (Means I Love You)” and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time),” becoming sampled by the likes of The Fugees and Missy Elliott and being used notably in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, Younge presents Hart with songs which could have been released in the ’70s, during the group’s prime. Amazingly, Hart’s unique, high-register drawl is intact. He warbles emotively through the darkly beautiful “Stop and Look (And You Have Found Love),” which I’ll stop short of calling a new classic for the band (but if it isn’t, it’s damn close). Younge and his band give the Hart a nasty, surf-soul ballad to croon over in “Lost Without You,” which starts like a 007 theme song before panning out into psychedelic soul, with stirring drum breaks, horns and subtle sitar. It’s touches like these that keep Adrian Young Presents the Delfonics from being merely a nostalgic trip or way for a producer to work with one of his heroes; Younge truly understands Hart’s voice, what works and what doesn’t, and he successfully adds new shades to the classic Delfonics sound while honoring their classic era. Hart croons like a man a quarter of his age in the touching “Silently”; he drops a register to sing out of falsetto on “To Be Your One,” the result equally alluring; and when he teams with a female vocalist on “Just Love,” they emerge with a gorgeous funk-soul ballad you could hear adding choice ambiance to Jackie Brown 2. To say it’s seductive listening would be an understatement.

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