Not to be dramatic, but I wanted to die when I heard Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak were working together as the new R&B duo, Silk Sonic. “Leave the Door Open” was an instant hit with its homage to ’70s era soul and rhythm and blues.
Mars and .Paak have existed within their own realms in the music industry. Mars is well known as a mainstay popstar since his first solo hit “Just the Way You Are” released in 2010. While .Paak has been in the underground contemporary rap and R&B scene since his cosign and collaboration on Dr. Dre’s 2015 album “Compton.”
Both artists have had their fair share of collaborations with other hit music artists and it only seemed right that they would one day work together. The celestial and musical stars aligned when .Paak opened for Mars in Europe for the 24K Magic World Tour. Their musical chemistry and year and a half of studio time resulted in the duo’s debut album “An Evening with Silk Sonic.”
Sitting with only nine tracks, “An Evening with Silk Sonic” is a short but sweet and playful nod to the ‘60s and ‘70s funk, soul and R&B sounds, with a dash of pop from Mars and .Paak’s rapping ability.
The duo enlists funk legend Bootsy Collins as the host of the album with his sly and smooth vocals on “Silk Sonic Intro,” “After Last Night,” “Smokin Out the Window,” “Put On A Smile” and signs off the album with “Blast Off.”
Collins is an icon who has worked with other legends like James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic and Snoop Dogg. Not only has Collins served as the host of Silk Sonic’s album, but he is also the one who came up with their name.
The introduction to the album sets the tone for a fun-filled evening concert with Silk Sonic with claps from the group and Mars and .Paak performing for an imaginary crowd. Halfway through the intro, Mars introduces Collins as the host. The “Blaster of the Universe” “Bootzilla Himself” swoons the crowd with his suave voice and encourages folks “to make your way to the stage” for Silk Sonic.
Following the intro is the group’s debut single “Leave the Door Open.” The song and music video were released on YouTube on March 4 and served as a great introduction to the overall feel of what the listeners should expect from the newly developed duo.
The song sounds like it was ripped right out of the ‘70s with a pitch-perfect arrangement of instruments and vocals from Mars and .Paak. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Mars said that the group researched the soul and funk atmosphere and acquired the proper equipment to recreate the sound of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Mars’ smooth tenor voice is complemented by .Paak’s raspy and soulful voice not just with “Leave the Door Open,” but throughout the album.
The other two singles off the album, “Skate” and “Smokin Out the Window,” also served as great singles that reinforced the group capitalizing on sounds of the past.
“Skate” was the group’s second single which added a nostalgic feeling of dancing and skating in a roller rink. Mars and .Paak sing the pre-chorus together with “'I’m tryna roll, I'm tryna ride / I'm tryna float, I'm tryna glide / No, no, don't be shy, just take my hand and hold on tight.”
This song is fun and playful with great vocals and once again the era-accurate instruments of the ‘70s, but Mars and .Paak also add comedic chops to the song with Mars’ lines “I can smell your sweet perfume / Mmm, you smell better than a barbecue.”
This playful chemistry between the artists continues with “Smokin Out the Window.” After the beginning of the album and the love interest the duo is singing to, we have a tone switch to a more lonely yet silly one. Collins starts the song with “Wait a minute, this love started out so tender, so sweet / But now she got me smokin' out the window.” Mars and .Paak talk about their love turning on them while they are stuck paying for the lovers trips, rent and jewelry.
The music video for “Smokin Out the Window” is just as fun as the lyrics with .Paak raising his hand to his head while reciting the memorable lines from .Paak saying “Baby, why you doin' this? Why you doin' this to me, girl? / Not to be dramatic, but I wanna die.” Just as he says those words he faints on the floor.
The other two memorable songs on the album are “After Last Night” and “Put On A Smile.” “After Last Night” serves as the only song with a feature with Thundercat on the bass. I have a love and hate situation with “After Last Night” because it’s got that sexy, funky and sensual feel to the lyrics, but it’s a little ruined as the cadence sounds similar to Saturday Night Live’s skit with Justin Timberlake and The Lonely Island’s holiday parody “D*** In A Box.”
Where the rest of the songs have a whimsical approach to the lyrics, “Put On A Smile” feels more real and sincere. Collins sets up the song with “Take it from your Uncle Bootsy / Ain't no shame beggin' in the rain.”
Aside from the chorus, a memorable line in the song comes from .Paak when he says “That was my ego, my pride and pain / I should be a movie star / The way I play the part like everything's okay.” This slow-paced, love ballad serves as a great arch for the album. The concept of Mars and .Paak as the braggadocious players is thrown out the window with this one.
I wouldn’t call this an album of the year candidate, but overall “An Evening with Silk Sonic” is a fun-filled evening concert with about a 30-minute runtime. It has a nostalgic feel to it with it’s ‘60s and ‘70s aesthetic and sound and it’s a nice break from today’s fast-paced music and TikTok dance trends.