Scene and Heard – CCLIV : Deeper –  Kenny Fame (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Cd_cover_DeeperYou have to admire Kenny Fame’s ability to explore his chosen genre, to push into the extremes of the commercial and the unconventional alike. If 2016’s An Intimate Portrait was a collection of progressive R&B, an album which mixed fragile and delicate songs seeped in soul and jazz with short musical sketches and thoughts, and last year’s Another Man’s Woman played out along more expected lines, Deeper sits somewhere between.

It is wonderfully commercial but without relying on the obvious or the cliched. It runs on a slow burning and sultry groove, remains understated and sparse and, as the video underlines, is built of the darker emotions that surround the break down of relationships. As always, Kenny Fame represents the alternative to the usual Day-Glo pop infused R&B that is the standard chart fodder these days. But he does so without veering too far from what most people expect from the genre, it’s just that his choices are braver, pander less to the average listeners expectations and take more thought provoking journeys.

He might represent the most gentle of musical revolutions, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t both necessary and long over due.

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Another Man’s Woman – Kenny Fame (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

22491822_1272265402879322_7559313500341619990_nThe last time Kenny Fame crossed my path it was with his wonderfully adventurous e.p. An Intimate Portrait, a collection of songs which really explored what modern R&B could be about. And if then he toyed with nu-jazz, soul, progressive pop and even offered some fascinating new song structures and played with the idea of space and atmosphere, here we find him on slightly more conventional ground. I say slightly because he is still very much his own man, doing R&B his own way but still tipping his hat to some of the more expected conventions.

The result is a slow groove through soulful territory, the same late night vibe that flavoured his previous work and the same personal narratives and heartfelt sentiments. In a world of revolution, where genres are split, fused and rewired into strange hybrids, this feels a lot more like evolution. It is certainly remoulding the traditions of the genre and moving them forward into the early light of a new musical era but it does so at a speed which even the most retro-loving pop-soul groover will be happy with. Sometimes change is only noticeable when you look back to see just where you came from. Kenny Fame represents change but somehow stability at the same time. That’s going to keep everyone happy I reckon.

An Intimate Portrait – Kenny Fame (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

 

a1525039913_16I guess the question that this short collection of music asks us is this….where next for the seemingly tried and tested format of contemporary R&B? And without deviating too far from the recognisable traits of the genre…smooth, beat driven soulful melodies…Fame still manages to find some interesting new places to explore.

For a genre normally associated with slick textured layers and a musically full sound, here he explores a more spacious, atmospheric style, with the likes of Friend Zone taking a staccato, almost dystopian route. Dystopian R&B…now there’s a genre we haven’t come across before.

Music in Your Life builds on this template pushing the beat into a more familiar, dance driven environment but it is the final song, I Want It All, that is the pay off, taking the disparate strands he has worked with so far and combining them into a late night, slow burning, nu-jazz meets R&B trip.

Although there are only three full songs here, the lyrics that take you on a short journey that wanders between club encounters, the ability of music to make you forget the grind of everyday life and heartfelt reflections on relationships, form a personal narrative which perfectly justifies the title of An Intimate Portrait.

Even the format shows some outside the box thinking with short spoken word sound bites linking the songs proper and again showing that if you thought that there were no new musical territories to conquer within the dance/soul/R&B world, Kenny Fame will make you think again.

 

 

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