By Nethan Crew
“An Evening with Silk Sonic” is the debut album of the musical duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak under the name Silk Sonic. The album, released on Nov. 12, was first announced on Twitter by Mars on Feb. 26 along with the date for the release of the first single, “Leave the Door Open.” The duo has been working on this album for over three years, starting during Mars’ “24K Magic Tour.”
During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in mid-August, .Paak explained that there was a strong possibility that the album would not exist without the events of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I’m not sure we would have done it if it wasn’t for the pandemic,” said .Paak. “It was tragic for so many people, but Bruno would have probably been on the road, me too — but we had to be here.”
The entire album gives a modern take on an old sound. The album has a run time of only 32 minutes, making it feel like a TV program. This idea is further elaborated on with the inclusion of Bootsy Collins, who serves as the guest host as well as the lyrics for the opening track “Silk Sonic Intro” including “It’s about that time to get out of your seats and make it up for our host. Give it up for Bootsy Collins.” As well as the question of “Who you come to see tonight?”
“An Evening with Silk Sonic” creates a modern fusion of soul, rap and R&B. This is created through layered vocals from the duo including subject matter of love and loss. The fourth track, “After Last Night” features the voice of guest host Collins as well as bass and backing vocals from Thundercat, an American bassist. The song’s lyrics tell the story of a lament by the duo to be with the same woman that they were with the night before. This indicates an emotional change, with a change from sad to “Smoking Out the Window’s” funk angst and then into an triumphant internal discovery by the main character of acceptance of the situation in “Put On A Smile.”
The duo of .Paak and Mars perform a 1970’s style melancholy ballad with booming percussion and a beautiful anthem vocal performance from Mars. This track suggests that everything gets slightly better after accepting the break of emotional attachment to the unnamed female character. This comes true with the seventh track “777,” where the duo goes and gambles their cares away. After this, the duo’s eighth track, “Skate,” reimagines the idea of playing music in the middle of a roller rink floor. This song was the second single to release from this album on Jul. 29.
The album comes to a climatic ending that feels like credits for their fictional TV program on “Blast Off.” This song shows the most musical differentiation between phrases, showing off the final amount of talent that Mars and .Paak display. The song ends with echoed vocals into a send-off from the narrator, Bootsy Collins, saying “Sending love from up above, Happy Trails! Baba.”
“An Evening with Silk Sonic” reimagines the funk, soul and R&B of the late 1960’s and 1970’s with more modernized production quality. The inclusion of the use of live instruments in the recording over music mixing programs latches onto the ear of the listener and allows for an organic feel of the entire album.