Some have said that funk is dead now — that it died off once the Bee Gees were done “Stayin’ Alive.” Others say that it was beaten to death by Les Claypool’s bass. Still others say that it gracefully committed suicide with Amiri Baraka’s “Twenty Pound Note.”
But, come now, don’t be sad, for I am pleased to be the first to say funk is back. Funk is back, and it is Blacc.
The second album by 31-year-old recording artist Aloe Blacc was released by Stones Throw Records on Sept. 30.
The album, titled “Good Things,” may be familiar to some of you, as the opening track and leading single “I Need a Dollar” is the theme song for the HBO series “How to Make It in America.”
Some local radio programs play other songs.
You may also be more familiar with two of the collaborating producers Oh No and Madlib on Blacc’s first album, “Shine Through.”
Blacc, along with the album’s cowriters and producers Leon Michels and Jeff Silverman, is breaking onto the music scene armed with his velvet voice, exciting energy and plenty of funk and soul. His performances have garnered flattering comparisons to Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye by prestigious magazines NME and Dazed & Confused, while Blacc himself calls out to other greats such as Buffalo Springfield and Jay-Z in his lyrics (“Loving You Is Killing Me” and “Good Things”).
“Good Things” is a fitting name for the album, as there are plenty of them on it. In keeping with the political theme of the record, many songs (“Miss Fortune” and “Life So Hard”) serve as excellent vehicles for Blacc’s deeply rooted, social-minded conscience while just as many others, like the climactic title track and the horn-heavy postlude “Politician,” are upbeat and soulful enough to cheer up even the stormiest of days. Some songs do both.
The album, being as cohesive as it is, gets you lost in the Shaft-like wah-wahs of “Hey Brother” while still giving you plenty of time to get your groove on before having to class it up for the funk-waltz of “If I” and the soulfully honest ballad “Mama Hold My Hand.”
Tune in to KSLC 90.3 FM to hear “Good Things” by Aloe Blacc. For more funk, listen to The Funk Hours with DJ Funky Phil, Mondays 4-6 p.m.