Silk Sonic’s new star studded album puts a spin on 60s and 70s funk

The album cover of Silk Sonics newest album.

Photo courtesy of Silk Sonic

The album cover of Silk Sonic’s newest album.

Julia Rich, Reporter

This November, I was transported to a concert of soul and funk music for 31 minutes and 19 seconds. The duo Silk Sonic, composed of singer Bruno Mars and singer/rapper Anderson .Paak, released their debut album, “An Evening with Silk Sonic,” which gave me a new perspective on music I never thought I needed.

The duo was originally formed when .Paak opened for Mars’s world tour in 2017. However, their music only started to be released with the song “Leave The Door Open” in March 2021, which is featured as one of the nine songs on the album.

This album takes funk and soul music from the 1960s and modernizes it, creating a unique sound. Both Mars and .Paak have experience with funk as they have each produced music focused on R&B and soul.

The first song on the album was the “Silk Sonic Intro,” where Bootsy Collins, a funk legend and a perfect person to showcase the genre of the album, introduces the duo. The song immediately starts off with strong claps and follows with Mars saying the phrase, “Who y’all came to see tonight?” He then said, “It’s about that time to get out your seats and make some noise for our host.” Later in the song, Collins introduces Mars and .Paak as the “band that I [he] named Silk Sonic.”

“Leave the Door Open,” the second song on the album, sounded like the concert that the intro song described. This made listening to the song in March, when it was released and then in November with the entire album two completely different experiences. Before I could even process the soul mixed with the elements from R&B, .Paak started to sing and I got lost in the next 30 minutes of the album.

The song featuring the strongest elements of 1960s funk was the third song of the album. Funk is a mix of soul, jazz and R&B, and “Fly as Me” had all of it. Right away, you hear a very powerful funky bassline and syncopated beats where the emphasis is shifted from the strong beats to off beats that you can hear throughout the whole song. While the powerful funk element exists, I think the song needed more of a hip-hop element and could have benefitted more with a mix of some more present-day instrumentals. 

The next song, “After Last Night,” which features Thundercat and Collins, took a completely different turn. The strong funky baselines that had appeared in previous songs completely transformed into harmonies and a serene melody. Voices were layered upon other voices as the song carried along, making it almost angelic to listen to. 

The two artists blended their voices together perfectly in the fifth song of the album, “Smokin Out the Window,” which is easily my favorite song on the album. The passion in the lyrics allows for a smooth transition to the oncoming verses and the artists both compliment each other’s strengths very well. While listening to this song, new and exciting elements are constantly appearing, making it feel as if I could listen to this song on repeat forever.

The next two songs, “Put on a Smile” and “777,” are complete opposites in the sense that “Put on a Smile” does not feature a lot of funk elements and is a slower pace, but the lyrics are interesting. On the other hand, “777” features more funk, is a faster pace and the lyrics did not increase my desire to listen to the song longer.

Following “Put on a Smile” and “777,” a feeling of excitement filled me when there was a change of pace with the next song “Skate.” This song flows so well and pulls you in from start to finish, making you feel like you want to “get out your seats.” The song features phrases like “just take my hand and hold on tight” which makes listeners intrigued for the adventure that the song definitely takes you on. It is fast-paced but rhythmic and quick but has so many elements that combine the different genres of funk and hip hop so well.

After “Skate,” “An Evening with Silk Sonic” closes with their last song, “Blast Off,” which focuses on saying goodbye. The lyric “got us smilin’ like our dreams just came true” talks about how the duo has completed everything they wanted for the album.

While some songs on the album could have been more exciting, it was refreshing to hear an album have elements of 1960s and 1970s funk but also create a more modern hip-hop take on those genres.

The almost instinctive blending of voices between Mars and .Paak made them a perfect pair, and the achievement of this album was definitely the first of what will soon be many of Silk Sonic’s great works. To anyone looking to listen to a definite masterpiece, listen to this album and be ready to experience pure art.