Published Dec 08, 2014Silk Rhodes specialize in no frills grooves. The Baltimore-based duo's eponymous debut is pared down to the essentials: producer Michael Collins' warbling synths and swaggering bass lines, along with Sasha Desree's impassioned falsetto. The vocalist has an obvious reverence for yesteryear's funky soul, especially on the deliciously seductive lead single "Face 2 Face," which sounds like Rick James and Marvin Gaye going toe to toe.
Unfortunately, Desree's homages sometimes sink into cringe-worthy mimicry. Take his tone-deaf chorus on "Realtime," where the frontman clearly tries to evoke Prince, but instead ends up sounding like the needy nephew of Remy Shand. Desree has more success with his Motown-esque high notes on "This Painted World," and his tongue-in-cheek raunch on "Hold Me Down," the frontman's second and more delightfully rueful nod to the Purple One. During those carefree, unfussy peaks, Silk Rhodes sounds less like a retread and more like soul's next step forward. (Stones Throw)