The Sweet Sound Of R&B: Jarell Perry, Travis Garland, and Chromatone

I love hearing R&B music, I have ever since I was a kid growing up listening to Motown, Atlantic, and Stax, and seeing it evolve in the subsequent decades.  The free downloads of Jarell Perry’s Simple Things and Travis Garland’s Fashionably Late Part II are two of 2013’s best records so far….

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JARELL PERRY  Simple Things

Jarell Perry is a new L.A. based singer and I expect by the end of the year you will hear much more about him, thanks to this highest calibre free download Simple Things.  Jarell has a classic soul voice that recalls only the best male singers of the last 50 years.  His voice alleviates even the weakest songs on the record to send them to another level.  And I’m talking Usher, Chris Brown, Miguel, Frank Ocean potential.

But when Simple Things is at its best, it is simply grand.  The themes are pretty basic, revolving around falling in and out of love, as is the case with the best R&B songs.  “Awkward”, “9 2 5”, “Happy 4 U”, and “Whiskey A Go Go” are memorable and you will want to hear them again immediately.  The production is beautiful, even when venturing into dubstep territory it really shines, largely because the focus is on the way Jarell interprets the songs.  “Perfect” also surprises by including the main chorus from Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want To Wait”, a seminal pop song now for those who grew up in the late 90s.  There are also two ‘bonus’ songs available for download.  “First Time” (like “Happy 4 U”) shows how Jarell’s voice fits amid some solid rapping, and then there’s a rendition of Semi-Precious Weapons’ “Aviation High” that completely captures the inspiration of that song in a way that the band probably didn’t anticipate.

Simple Things is an essential record that you must download along with its bonus songs.   You do not need to be only an R&B fan, many of the songs are definitely on the Pop tip.   You will be soooo glad you did!  Listen to a stream of the album below, as well as the free downloads of “First Time” and “Aviation High” individually.

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TRAVIS GARLAND  Fashionably Late Part II (EP)

Back in early February, I thought it was great that Part I of Fashionably Late was a fresh R&B-oriented start for L.A.’s Travis Garland, after making some impact with his pop song “Believe” in 2010 through a major label deal.  He’s back as an independent and the Part II EP clearly showcases an inbred love for R&B that some of the songs from Part I didn’t capture.  In fact, Part II bests Part I in so many ways, and its timing is perfect in light of Justin Timberlake’s success with The 20/20 Experience.

The best song on Part I is “Didn’t Stand A Chance”, a really sweet acoustic ballad that I’m playing a lot right now.  The best song on Part II is so hard to pick because I thoroughly enjoy them all.  Travis sticks to Justin / Robin Thicke / Miguel territory as his target, but he moves back and forth from that target with some highly personal-sounding lyrics as well as some experimentation.  I love the story behind “Blue Electric Roses”, “Where To Land” features a glorious falsetto, “From Adam (interlude)” wears its heart on its sleeve, and “Neighbor” gets into a deeper, dirtier flavour and some flirty lyrics.  The experimentation comes in the form of the 5 minute + “Homewrecker”, which sounds like Travis has his ear on contemporaries like JMSN by singing a complex song and holding your interest all the way through with its sparser sound.

Fashionably Late Part II gets even higher marks for being a total surprise.  Be sure to download it for free while it lasts.  Travis Garland has upped his own ante with this one!  You can also stream the EP at the link below.

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CHROMATONE, “My Kind Of Love”

I get to include the latest from the UK’s Chromatone because like the above releases, Chromatone’s style is rooted in R&B, as you heard last year with songs like “She Tries” and “One Half”.  This time he has tackled an acoustic cover of Emeli Sandé’s “My Kind Of Love” – a song not yet too well-known outside of the UK and Europe, since North America is only starting to dig “Next To Me”.  For being such a sad song in its original version, Chromatone puts a Jay Kay/Jamiroquai-esque vocal to the song and then parcels it with a humourous video to make the song its own.  Watch below and I hope to bring you more from Chromatone soon.  You can also download it for free from the Soundcloud link below (the download is in .aif format – you may need to convert it to mp3).

Published in: on April 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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