[17 January 2007]
The underground soul movement, which, as inconsequential and absurd as it may sound in relation to its mainstream counterpart, allows its categorized artists to put a creative twist on the rigid stereotypes of the genre. Darien Brockington, a Justus League affiliate and go-to collaborator, uses his debut Somebody to Love to formulate such melodic success by offsetting soul-washed production with traditional and octave-thrashing vocals. Although his voice may be a bit too thin to give the album a rounded-out feel, Brockington exudes effortless talent on every track without the backhanded overexertion that clouds mainstream rhythm and blues. On Somebody to Love, the lyrics are generally concerned with what the title suggests, sometimes seeming excessive in earnest sincerity, but in the tradition of soul, Brockington moves through the various stages of romance, easily swinging from naïve hopefulness on the autumn “Think It Over” to bad-blooded break-ups on the low-swinging “Crazy.” While the album sometimes lacks depth in terms of emotional diversity, it compensates with glistening production from 9th Wonder, Khrysis and newcomer E.Jones, all of whom are musically conjunct in scooping the hip-hopped soul that characterizes all of the Justus League releases. But although Love is sign that Brockington may be at a loss in terms of mainstream appeal, his debut outlines the qualities of what mass-distributed soul should surely represent.