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Soul - Verschenen op 21 juni 2019 | ATO Records

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Some albums make you smile from the opening track. You might take another look at the title and the artist, to try and commit them to memory. Then, you might get a bit bored; maybe your attention will lapse. You listen to the next song but stop there. After a brief feeling of guilt, you’ve already moved on to another album and all memory of it fades. Black Pumas is quite the opposite. Rarely in 2019 can an album hold your attention for 39 minutes 41 seconds, as well as force you to immediately abandon what you are doing and listen like your life depends on it. From the opening lyrics of Black Moon Rising, you’re already sold. Eric Burton’s voice, a sumptuous blend of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Gnarls Barkley, is a revelation, with each syllable and each inflection perfectly hitting the mark. But this is only one half of Black Pumas; the other half is guitarist, composer and arranger Adrian Quesada, who has performed with Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, Prince and Daniel Johnston. From the songwriting to his prominent rhythmic guitar that doesn’t overshadow Burton’s voice like others have done in the past, it is clear that Quesada played an important role in the creation of these 10 retro-soul songs, jumping between Motown instrumentals, hip-hop rhythms, tranquility and violence. Touch the Sky uses an ultra-groovy riff as the track’s introduction that merges into the mix and complements the vocal melodies. Having become very accustomed with his producing hat, Quesada knows that he is not the star of the show, which is exactly what makes this duo so magical. Burton says: “It’s like we’re musical brothers to some degree [...] It feels so easy to meld together that what’s most important for us now is to continue to look for new sounds.” Black Pumas may be a soul album, but this free approach can be heard on the last track Sweet Conversation in which an acoustic guitar arpeggio repeats itself like a psychedelic lullaby, while Burton sings “You know my heart’s on the pavement / but my soul’s steady grooving”. With this folk-esque sound, and the jerky rhythms of Know You Better that are marked by gospel choirs and unusual chord progressions, the duo make their intentions clear, adding “We didn’t want to just do throwback soul and pretend that hip-hop never happened”, an admirable approach in an era where retro pastiches are already abundant. The result is a brilliant album that promises a radiant future for the Burton-Quesada pair. We certainly haven’t heard the last of them. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Soul - Verschenen op 16 april 2019 | ATO Records

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Soul - Verschenen op 21 januari 2020 | ATO Records

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Soul - Verschenen op 6 maart 2019 | ATO Records

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R&B - Verschenen op 9 juni 2020 | ATO Records

Soul - Verschenen op 13 januari 2020 | colorsxstudios

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R&B - Verschenen op 29 juli 2020 | ATO Records

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R&B - Verschijnt op 28 augustus 2020 | ATO Records