Musiq Soulchild’s dou­ble al­bum dou­bles down on love

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - MUSIC -

Be­sides its dou­ble-al­bum length, the most ear-catch­ing as­pect of Musiq Soulchild’s Feel the Real is the chance to hear the Philadel­phi­aborn artist dur­ing nearly ev­ery mo­ment of his eighth al­bum.

Feel the Real is long, dense and mostly ful­fill­ing, but Musiq’s om­nipres­ence also re­quires com­mit­ment to get through its more than 97 min­utes at once.

Dou­bling down on var­ied as­pects of love and ro­mance, from the pop­u­lar theme of friends with Ben­e­fits and the in­sis­tent-but-not-in-astalk­ing-kind-of-way per­sis­tence of Sooner or Later, to the Ste­vie Won­der-sound­ing Like the Weather and its de­ter­mi­na­tion to out­last the fore­cast, to the head-over-heels pas­sion­ate aban­don of the ti­tle track, the man born Taalib John­son has crafted an of­ten truly spec­tac­u­lar set.

As with many, if not most, dou­ble al­bums, qual­ity con­trol seems to slip a bit on the sec­ond disc, de­spite its high­lights.

There are al­lur­ing sonic de­tails spread along the two discs — a nearly prog-rock gui­tar at the start of Test Drive, big band drums launch­ing Sooner or Later, an Isaac Hayeslike soul feel on Start Over and a gui­tar-piano com­bi­na­tion that screams Ra­dio­head on Hard Liquor — but some­times they ta­per off deeper into the songs, dis­solv­ing some of their ap­peal.

Al­bum closer Sim­ple Things con­tains a few el­e­ments some of the other songs could have ben­e­fited from in larger doses — an in­stru­men­tal solo and about 20 sec­onds of stripped-down vo­cals which charm with their beauty and, duh, sim­plic­ity.

Clearly, there’s a lot of mu­sic in Musiq Soulchild th­ese days — he also re­leased an al­bum in 2016 — and, de­spite some ex­cesses, Feel the Real reaf­firms him as a de­pend­able source of qual­ity R&B, hip-hop, soul or what­ever cat­e­gory he’s into or placed in at this mo­ment.

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