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September 29th 2010

Aloe Blacc - 'Good Things'

(Stones Throw)
 
Review written by Imran Mirza


It's often said that good music is timeless, but conversely good music can also be a sign of those times as well - Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are A Changing' and John Lennon's 'Give Peace A Chance' conjure up images and emotions of a time I didn't even live through, but the messages of each (campaigning for Civil Rights and protesting the Vietnam war, respectively) are sincere signs of the times the songs were recorded in ... which brings us to 2010: We live in a time of record levels of unemployment, banks are not able to lend money to people for mortgages, petrol prices are shooting through the roof ... and, for me, the musical sign of these times is Aloe Blacc.
 
Born in Orange County, California, to Panamanian parents, Blacc's sophomore album release, 'Good Things', establishes him amongst soul music's most thoughtful and innovative social thinkers and commentators, like James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye.
 
Following on from the success of Mayer Hawthorne's 'A Strange Arrangement', Aloe Blacc's 'Good Things' serves as another strong contention from Stones Throw Records to be seen as more than solely a hip-hop label.  Produced and recorded with the in-house production team at Truth & Soul Records, Leon Michels and Jeff Silverman, 'I Need A Dollar' sets the album off perfectly, and encapsulates the down-trodden working man faced with a closed door in every direction.  The production and musicianship on this release is top-notch and the organic approach to classic soul stylings are eloquently captured here, and bar the hot-bed of incredible talent over at Daptone Records, there are few who could do it better. 
 
The aforementioned 'I Need A Dollar' serves as a strong album highlight, along with songs 'Loving You Is Killing Me', 'Good Things' and 'You Make Me Smile', but the gem that should go down as the contemporary classic that it is, 'Mama Hold My Hand', steals the show and will have you reaching for the phone... (on the assumption that your mum isn't already in the room).
 
It's been a fantastic year for soul music with such an incredible standard, so for Blacc's release to swoop in and make such an impact says a lot about the quality of music you can expect on this release.  And, from Aloe Blacc, we'll only expect Good Things!


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