Sometimes, the simplest things make for the most pleasing, and that’s exactly what you get with Silk Sonic. Take two of the hottest names in modern music, give them a wonderful supporting band, and let them write songs. Truth be told, I was always more of an Anderson .Paak fan than a Bruno Mars one, but it’s impossible to ignore Mars’s impact on the pop and soul game with hits like “Just The Way You Are (Amazing)” and “Uptown Funk” with Mark Ronson, which has over 4.3 (four-point-three) billion views on YouTube at the time of me writing this. To say that Silk Sonic not only sells me on Mars as an artist himself, but on the duo as well, is an understatement.
The premise of An Evening With Silk Sonic is absurdly simple: just two dudes being as smooth as eggs over some of the tightest funk and soul instrumentation I’ve heard in a while. A fitting name, dubbed by Bootsy Collins, who appears in various parts of this album and is credited as a special guest host – the music, or sonics, of it all has the texture of sweet, chocolatey silk, like the sheets of your favorite lover’s bed. That energy just oozes from every track here.
I think most people were like me: mesmerized when they heard “Leave The Door Open” at the beginning of the year and wanted more. More. It was an undeniably sexy track, tastefully old school with modern sensibilities, and Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars are just having the time of their lives. .Paak is a drummer and singer, so that’s where you’ll find him, and while Mars is known for being a singer first and foremost, he’s also an accomplished guitarist, pianist, percussionist, conga… ist, and adept with even more eclectic instruments like the sitar, which can be heard on their other single, “Skate”. Would you believe me if I said that “Leave The Door Open” ends up being one of the weaker (read: least strong) tracks on An Evening With Silk Sonic?
A matter of opinion, sure, but damn, there’s just so much other good stuff here to talk about, like “Fly As Me” which is a braggadocious and self-confident track where .Paak and Mars get to flex, putting their best foot forward when stepping to a desirable lady. Y’all might know I have a penchant for rap, and that’s where I found Anderson .Paak as a solo artist and performer, namely with various features and his album Oxnard. To hear him rap here on “Fly As Me” is a great feeling. His flow is slick, fast, and loose, but in keeping with the lyrics (‘Hollerin’ at you from a 1977 Monte Carlo, hard act to follow/ It’s showtime, tryna boo you up like it’s the Apollo‘), there’s this smooth-ass player vibe slathered on top. Bruno Mars is in his bag with the hook of the track, where he brings some extra harmony and catchiness to it all:
‘I deserve to be
With somebody as fly as me
Somebody this fly
And you deserve to be seen
With somebody as fly as me‘
Mars gets ample time to shine, though. On “Smokin Out The Window”, he’s belting out some cheeky bars about a love gone sour, seemingly becoming one-sided – ‘Must’ve spent thirty-five, forty-five thousand up in Tiffany’s/ Got her badass kids runnin’ ’round my whole crib like it’s Chuck E. Cheese‘. There’s some lush, gentle strings here on the song, which lend themselves to the slightly somber mood of the track as well as that old school soul/funk feel. “Put On A Smile” is even more touching, with the duo being vulnerable and honest with themselves, having lost their loves and putting on a fake smile in front of their friends when they’re really torn up inside (it’s okay to cry, y’all, you don’t have to be tough all the time!). The chorus absolutely soars on this track, but you get a rainy day mood overall from it, accented by actual pouring rain that can be heard at either end of the song.
There’s kind of an arc to An Evening With Silk Sonic as well. What starts as a story of fiery, passionate love with “Leave The Door Open”, “Fly As Me”, and “After Last Night” quickly turns to pain with “Smokin Out The Window” and “Put On A Smile”. The redemption arc then is up to the last three tracks starting with “777”, which is probably my favorite on the whole album. Referring to a slots jackpot or maybe a hot streak at the craps table, it’s Silk Sonic at their most opulent – out on the town, taking risks, drinking, balling out with pretty women, and indulging in all the hedonism that a place like Vegas would have (‘Pretty motherfucker with some money to blow/ I’m ’bout to buy Las Vegas after this roll‘, .Paak boasts on the hook). It’s just a fun-ass time. It’s got a sweet guitar and bass lick, and those horn stabs during the hook are a treat. .Paak has a mini-verse that is quintessentially him: entertaining and purposed.
‘Stacks on stacks, racks on racks
Moonwalk to the money like I’m Mike Jack
Yes, I’m faded, pupils dilated
But the man in the mirror sayin’ ‘go on, get your paper‘‘
Between all the elements that make up the songs on An Evening With Silk Sonic, you really feel the electricity and chemistry between Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. It’s ultimately what sells the whole album. They both harmonize well, play off each other even better, and complement the skills the other brings to the table in a way that just makes for an outstanding album regardless of genre. It’s clear these two are pals and enjoy making music for music’s sake, especially when they could just as easily maintain their own solo careers and do one-off features with their peers and other friends. To link up in this manner and involve legends and hit-makers like Bootsy Collins, Babyface (he’s on “Put On A Smile”, though good luck parsing his voice out), and D’Mile (a prominent, prolific producer, songwriter, and instrumentalist from Brooklyn – just look at that resume) is a huge testament to their love for the craft, and a boon to us music fans that just wanna hear some exceptionally good shit.
I joked when this album dropped that everyone would be fucking to it that Friday night and, while I’m sure some people unknowingly made good on that off-hand joke of mine, it’s just further testament to the value that An Evening With Silk Sonic has. It’s sexy, smooth, and executed so well by two people and their friends with an immense amount of talent and love for soul, funk, and r&b. So, all you couples, young and old, put “Leave The Door Open” on that after dark playlist, break out the champagne, and sprinkle some rose petals on that Serta mattress before pressing play. And hey, if you’re reading this years later after finding out you were in fact conceived to the sweet sounds of Silk Sonic, you better go thank your uncles Bruno and Anderson for setting the mood.