Aloe Blacc: “Good Things”

Posted in Dancing about architecture on February 1st, 2011 by bill

I first heard Aloe Blacc’s music in Amoeba Records on Telegraph. There was a dramatic swelling of strings, then a soulful, buttery voice singing familiar words: “Here she comes…you better watch your step.” I knew I knew the song, but the arrangement was so different it took me a minute to figure out I was listening to a cover of Lou Reed’s “Femme Fatale,” originally sung by Nico on the first Velvet Underground album.

Listening to Blacc’s version, it seemed obvious that this had always been a soul song…I couldn’t believe I’d never noticed before. Anybody who can do that has something going on, so I walked over to the appropriate section and picked up a copy of the album, Good Things. I’ve been happy with the purchase; this is the best album of new soul music I’ve heard since, I don’t know, Macy Gray’s first record? The sound is not self-consciously retro like, say, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, but more like Mark Ronson’s productions for Amy Winehouse: sleek and crisp with a classic feel but lots of modern touches. (Hmm, I wasn’t thinking of Amy when I said that thing about Macy Gray…. Poor Amy. Will she live long enough to deliver that follow-up to Back to Black?)
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