While the springy bass lines, booming drums, jazzy undertones and empowering themes of early '90s new jack swing may not exactly be en vogue (pardon the pun), SassyBlack makes them sound of the moment and fresh to death on her sophomore album.
Slyly dubbed New Black Swing, it's a succinct nine-track set that finds the rising Seattle alt-R&B star paying beautiful homage to bygone greats with her spirited dedication to the genre's sonic conventions. But she also, more impressively, updates the tropes in unabashed fashion.
That's especially true on the astounding "Satisfied," where she sings about having a "king or queen" and encouraging "you to have your own world" in a modern, post hetero-normative fashion that sounds like a utopia worth striving for. "What We Gonna Do," meanwhile, boasts snazzy vibrato horns and percussion that's sweet, sticky and slow as molasses. Again though, it's the lyrics that put the track over — especially when Sassy raps Queen Latifah-style about "not being a ho" and liking to "take control."
Fans are also sure to enjoy the less intense, yet equally engrossing lyrics on "Passion Paradise," as Sassy unveils deep intimacy by singing about "Sitting in my room / I'm flushed with this feeling" over strings that softly sigh and moan alongside gently caressed piano notes.
By mining one of the '90s most exciting musical moments, while also reaching for a more enlightened tomorrow with her lyrics, SassyBlack has given us a timeless-feeling LP that's also perfectly of the moment. (Independent)