Available languages: EnglishA collaboration between producer and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Quesada and singer/songwriter Eric Burton, Black Pumas fuse cinematic neo-soul, light psychedelia, and a touch of urban grit. Rising from their studio origins to become a hard-hitting live act, the group released their debut album in 2019. Through a mutual friend, Quesada -- a Grammy-winning Austin-based producer known for his work with Grupo Fantasma and Brownout -- connected with Burton, who'd been making the rounds in Austin's singer/songwriter scene since busking his way from Los Angeles in 2015. Burton's dynamic and soulful vocals were a perfect match for the retro-funk- and R&B-flavored tracks Quesada had been working on, and the two joined forces in 2018 as Black Pumas. Working out their material both in the studio and on-stage during a weekly residency at Austin's C-Boys Heart & Soul Bar, they signed a deal with ATO Records and released a pair of singles, "Black Moon Rising" and "Fire" in early 2019. Their acclaimed debut LP followed in June of that year and helped to earn the duo a Grammy nomination for best new artist.
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Soul - Verschenen op 21 juni 2019 | ATO Records
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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