Music

Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics: Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics

Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics takes one of the Delfonics’ soulful trademarks (the dizzyingly high falsetto of William Hart) and redresses it in modern R&B finery--from slinky come ons to silky romanticism in a bid that pays off continually.


Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics

Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics

Label: Wax Poetics
US Release Date: 2013-03-12
UK Release Date: 2013-03-12
Amazon
iTunes

In 2002 -- and for six years following -- Verve Records released a series of compilations entitled Verve Remixed, consisting of electro remixes of songs made famous by Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, James Brown, and the like. The remixes seemed like a tawdry way of getting a younger generation to listen to founding figures of blues and soul, and ultimately reduced these modifications of classic cuts to shopping mall muzak. When it comes to encouraging impressionable listeners to seek out past greats, Adrian Younge has taken a more effective path: Rather than remastering or remixing a classic artist’s greatest hits, he’s instead sought out that artist and has worked with them in creating a new and surprising release. Of course, such collaborations aren’t always possible, and this fact makes Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics even more of a pleasure than it already is.

Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics takes one of the Delfonics’ soulful trademarks (the dizzyingly high falsetto of William Hart) and redresses it in modern R&B finery -- from slinky come ons to silky romanticism. Some less expected stylistic choices -- such as the light psychedelic touches on “Lost Without You”--are added for good measure. All sonic updates refrain enough from current trends to risk sounding dated years from now. Whether it be Hart’s subject matter or Younge’s production decisions, the album sounds more like a lost classic from the ‘70s that’s still a thrill to spin than a bid for contemporary credibility. Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics also comes across as something of a portrait of the loving relationship between artist and producer. Hart’s subject matter hasn’t really changed since the Delfonics’ heyday; most songs on here concern love, yearning, or calling for peace. Although the subject matter is timeless, Younge’s production steps in when necessary to ensure these songs will still sound radical despite not feeling wholly modern. It’s a gamble, but it pays off continually.

The bareness of Hart’s vocals may not appeal to some, but this risk in particular really pays off in terms of uniqueness. Even when something like the Burt Bachrach-esque “So in Love with You” comes on, Hart’s delivery and the precision of the music make it sound far more fresh than it has any right to. The stunning opener “Stop and Look” may make the listener believe they’re in for a smooth and ballady ride, but before things get too comfortable, a song like “Enemies” -- which has more bite than a lot of the songs that made the Delfonics famous -- makes it well known that this is not an entirely soft and rosy affair.

The only real criticism I can throw at Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics concerns its title. The Delfonics’ original producer, Thom Bell, had a hand in establishing their initial Philly soul sound, but he never had the gall to title one of their releases Thom Bell Presents the Delfonics. Due to one of the original Delfonics, Randy Cain, being deceased, you can’t expect a reunion of the original line up; however, the easily misled may take the album as an out and out Delfonics comeback. If it leads the curious to checking out the Delfonics’ initial sound, new listeners may be a little thrown by the tender, easy-listening feel of the trio’s many winning songs. Whether or not Wax Poetics Presents William Hart would have been a better album title matters little in the end. However you package it, it’s not only better than the real thing; it’s better than much of what has come out thus far this year.

9
Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Music

Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".

Film

The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.

Music

July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.

Music

With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.

Film

Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.

Music

MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.

Books

Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.

Music

John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."

Books

'Run-Out Groove' Shows the Dark Side of Capitol Records

Music promoter Dave Morrell's memoir, Run Out Groove, recalls the underbelly of the mainstream music industry.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.