Thursday, May 31, 2012

REVIEW - Art Dealer Chic Volumes (1,2,3) by Miguel



Album:Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1, 2, 3



The marriage of freedom and the internet has existed since the genesis of the Web, yet this union has not always yielded good results. Despite allowing the popularity of countless valid and innovative musical acts from Das Racist to The Weeknd, this immense network has also forced us to have to stomach countless half-baked (pun intended) Gucci Mane mixtapes and more Mac Miller leaks than any man should have to endure. But then cometh those rare acts that make us once again hail the internet as a catalyst for amazing music distributed to and created for the fans.

For example, this series of [free] EPs (freEPs?) by up and coming R&B crooner Miguel, is a well-crafted, fan-minded, diverse yet cohesive collection of music that delivers for the wonderful price of free-ninety-nine. Miguel himself is most well known for his small-time pop-radio hit "Sure Thing", a heartfelt neo-soul number with a Biggie Smalls style pitched-down chant keeping it's retro feeling, well, kinda new. That sentiment persists in this collection, the concept of borrowing ideas --  from taut, Prince-style funk ("Party Life", my personal favorite "Adorn") to a clattery, semi-sinister club groove reminiscent of Timbaland ("All...") and making them all sound fresh. Even the weakest point of Art Dealer Chic (Volume 2's slightly disrespectful "Broads") is made more than bearable by Miguel stopping the track after the first chorus to say he is leaving the songs' verses open for singers/rappers to record there own feature into the song. A fitting ideal, exemplary of a forward-thinking and caring musician who loves his fans. 

But none of this would matter if the songs weren't catchy, well-sung and well-composed. And I am thrilled to say they are. From the brutally introspective "All..." to the Boyz II Men-recalling "Gravity" to the falsetto harmony drenched, sexy, slinky "Adorn" to the downright steamy "Arch N Point" (as in "arch your back and point your toes", uh, a dancer...) to the staccato guitar bursts, pitch bent synths and woodblocks (?) of "Party Life"...all the songs are well-composed and genre-hoppingly well-executed. And vocally, Miguel is up with the big dogs of the soul-ar system, wielding a spry, crystal clear tenor that echoes Babyface with rare flashes of Prince (or at very least, Usher)- worthy falsetto guaranteed to make women light-headed and guys, well, impressed. 

Bottom Line : This young artist has whipped up a delicious, diverse grab-bag of R&B seasoned with salty originality and zesty promise of retro-modern revolution if he continues to follow his muse.

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