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Black Pumas – Black Pumas

June 24, 2019

My son sent me the Black Pumas’ lead single, “Black Moon Rising” this past spring. I dug its retro soul groove. Although it was retro, it had a modern feel. The vocalist, Eric Burton has a gorgeous soul voice – in the tradition of Al Green, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. He is inspired by those greats without sliding into impersonation. The production reminds me of Danger Mouse – a smattering of hip hop in the groove. On the strength of “Black Moon Rising,” I picked up the album when I saw it prominently displayed at Dusty Groove.

The rest of the album holds up to the lead single. It is slow burning soul – in the quiet storm tradition. Great vocals, sophisticated arrangements (that are not too busy) and tasty guitar work.

I was curious about the band’s back story. Per their Bandcamp site:

Black Pumas is led by the creative partnership between Grammy Award-winning guitarist / producer Adrian Quesada and 27-year-old songwriter Eric Burton. Burton is a relative newcomer who arrived in Austin in 2015 after busking his way across the country from Los Angeles, while Quesada has a storied reputation for playing in bands like Grupo Fantasma and Brownout while also producing acclaimed projects like 2018’s ‘Look At My Soul: The Latin Shade Of Texas Soul.’ 

After the two connected via friends in the Austin scene, they began to collaborate on a new sound that transmutes soul into something idiosyncratically modern. Reminiscent of Ghostface Killah and Motown in equal measure…

This is high quality contemporary soul music. Highly recommended. I can’t speak to the Wu-Tang reference (although as mentioned above, there is a hip hop flavor to the arrangements), I certainly endorse the Motown reference.

A bonus is the band has a great name and a very cool album cover – yes I am a sucker for that kind of stuff.

https://open.spotify.com/album/54SlWgNocRPhlZEFTYjOfW?si=gBuoX1Q_Qa2N35OSY1LcVw

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