Trying To Get To You

Monday, May 21, 2007

Stuck In Retro

Just when I write that new soul is not nostalgia comes an album that does as much as possible to prove me wrong. The album is the debut by Ryan Shaw, This Is Ryan Shaw. Shaw is a 26-year-old Georgia native, who, according to his bio, has been singing in church since he was 3. He moved to New York and cut his teeth singing Motown standards at the Motown Café, amongst other gigs. He was discovered by producer Jimmy Bralower (Cyndi Lauper) singing at a club in the East Village. Brolower got him a deal at Columbia and produced the new album.

The album is a disappointment. It’s soul with all of the edges dulled, that is, it is not really soulful at all, and it unsuccessfully recreates a past while offering no glimmer of what the (soul) future should be. Shaw’s voice is pleasant but undistinguished, and instrumentally, the album’s retro-glossy polish makes the material veer headlong into generic territory. Rhythmically, there is little interesting going on, and his remake of Bobby Womack’s “Looking For A Love,” sounds unnecessary; it adds nothing to the original version, nor does it cast the original in a new light. If someone told me that this album was produced by the same people that had created the California Raisins ad campaign (which featured Motown songs), in the late 80’s, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. If there’s hype on this one, don’t believe it.

Download: "Do The 45"


Anonymous said...

There isn't anything essentially nostalgic about soul versus punk. But the difference is this...

Ryan Shaw's "Do the 45" is nostalgic in its essence. He's not talking about the gun or the malt liquor, but an outdated music format. He's trying to sell music to people who have already purchased the entire Motown catalog.

Meanwhile, Amy Winehouse is singing about topics that are relevant today. There's nothing wrong with grabbing some sonic elements that are "nostalgic," which she does, but what's sticking is that she's singing soul music that's topical.

Amy Winehouse is not "Going to a Go-Go." She's "not going to Rehab." Big difference...

Anonymous said...

Good point.