Aloe Blacc is one of a new breed of soul singers that takes the quintessential Detroit soul sound and updates it for a new audience. Unlike his fellow Stownsthrow label mate Mayer Hawthorne, Blacc has the voice to pull it off. This is the Californian's second solo album, having previously been a member of the band Emanon, and should see him set to become a name to be reckoned with on both sides of the Atlantic.
The album opens on the track I Need A Dollar which has already had considerable exposure in the States after being used as the theme music for the tv programme 'How To Make It In America'. From its piano driven intro to the stabbing brass, it is a classy track with poignant lyrics and a slight sense of the melancholy. Fans of Al Green will lap up the classic soul of So Hard, Momma Hold My Hand and You Make Me Smile but it is on the slightly dirtier funk tinged Hey Brother and Politician that Blacc stamps his own authority. On Hey Brother especially, Blacc finds his own voice with a nod toward the Blaxploitation movies of the 70's where the soundtracks echoed the seedier side of life.
With a wealth of great soul records out there from the past five decades, you are always going to be spoilt for choice, but in Blacc you get the feeling that he is not here to re-live the past but instead create the future.