On March 7, 2021, Bruno Mars tweeted at The Recording Academy:
If you can see it in your hearts to allow two out of work musicians to perform at your show, we would really appreciate it. We just released a song and could really use the promotion right now…. I hope you’ll consider this request and give us the opportunity to shine. Love, Silk Sonic.”
The song in question, of course, was “Leave The Door Open,” which the new duo did, indeed, perform seven days later at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. Now, the single is nominated for four Grammy awards, including Song Of The Year, for the 2022 season.
And, to the delight of many waiting fans, the full 31-minute, 9-song album An Evening With Silk Sonic was released on November 12, 2021.
I have been a Bruno Mars fan since his debut album in 2010, so I was absolutely ecstatic to hear that he was back, collaborating with Anderson .Paak, as a new, Motown-inspired R&B super duo. Since the release of “Uptown Funk” in 2014, Mars has delved deeper and deeper into the Motown style of the Seventies, and the release of 24K Magic directly foreshadows this musical journey. I love how you can practically trace the funkadelic shifts from Mars’ trendy pop days of “Grenade” and “Locked Out of Heaven” to “Chunky” and, eventually, Silk Sonic’s “Smokin Out The Window.” There’s always been soul and funk inspirations in his music, but this album’s full embrace of the style is what really drew me in. As The Rolling Stone headline reads, “Silk Sonic Are Here to Save Us With Seventies Soul.”
The half-an-hour long album is the perfect length for a daily listen—a practice I have kept up for a month now. It begins with the short and sweet “Silk Sonic Intro,” featuring a deep-voiced “Blaster of the Universe” and a peppy initiation to the soulful journey that is soon to follow. This magical introduction jumps right into the song that’s already a classic: “Leave The Door Open.” There’s a reason that this song went viral immediately upon release. The silly echoes behind the main melody are reminiscent of “Uptown Funk,” and the duo switch lead roles flawlessly to create a truly magnificent experience.
The next song, “Fly As Me,” can only be described as psychedelically fun. .Paak’s rap experience shines through with his tight rhythms, and his personality is infectious, even through your phone’s speaker. When Mars joins in with the chorus, your self confidence is sure to be boosted tenfold. There’s no feeling that compares to being serenaded by the fly duo themselves. The ending lyric, “Silk Sonic, let me get the three-piece and a biscuit” is my mom’s personal favorite on the album, and geniously finishes the Muhammad Ali boxing motif carried throughout the song. After the three ending beats of “Fly As Me,” we are launched into a contrasting Jermain Jackson-esque, sexy, love song featuring Thundercat and influential funk star Bootsy Collins. “… After Last Night,” is groovy, flirtatious, and the song of pretty much every girl’s dreams.
Placed perfectly in the middle of this life-changing album is my personal favorite: “Smokin Out The Window.” This song is the epitome of the Seventies vibe, and it makes me want to stand and look out my window on a rainy day to ponder lost love and toxic relationships. I also like to sing this song loudly and passionately when no one is around. I, personally, would not leave Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak feeling cold and alone. Also, the line “Got her [kids] runnin’ ’round my whole crib/Like it’s Chuck E. Cheese” is absolutely iconic.
The last four songs on the album round out the whole experience. “… Put On A Smile” is slow and intense, and the duo’s vocal abilities are showcased to their fullest extent as the pair lament their heartbreak. Also, the introduction by Bootsy Collins is stellar. “777” has become the theme song of the album, with the iconic slots machine look being incorporated into its marketing and design. This song is super fun and exciting, and has me rooting for the duo as .Paak bodaciously declares that he will “buy Las Vegas after this roll.” “Skate” was released early as a single, but did not lose its flavor at all in its second-to-last spot on the album. This is the “dance” song on the album and truly makes me feel like I’m getting down at the disco.
The last song, “Blast Off,” was obviously designed to be the quintessential closer of the compilation. We’re reminiscing on our journey and blasting off into the night. I love that the whole album ends on a positive note: “Blastin’ off straight to some good vibrations.” Bootsy Collins’ voice at the end soothes us with “All the way from the stratosphere/Sendin’ love from up above/Happy trails,” and you can’t help but smile. It’s flawless.
The 1970s were characterized by funk, soul, and disco music. Motown Records inspired a whole wave of artists like Diana Ross & the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson Five. The sound of this decade featured full bands with strings and a horn section, a groovy melody with gospel-like backing vocals, clever lyrics, strong bass guitar, and sophisticated chord progressions. In the 2000s, we seem to be losing that big band energy in favor of synthetic pop and uncomplicated structures. Silk Sonic is being praised for bringing back the Seventies style, and it’s refreshing to hear this throwback on the radio, on queue next to Dua Lipa and Adele.
The marketing drive for An Evening With Silk Sonic has been outstanding despite the album being released at the exact same time as the incredibly successful Red (Taylor’s Version). Silk Sonic was trending right underneath Taylor Swift that night on Twitter, and the most popular songs off the album have been dominating the charts. Mars and .Paak didn’t let anything overshadow their masterpiece of an album, and their accomplishments will surely be awarded at the 64th annual Grammy Awards.
If I had any notes for the new superduo, it would be that they need to produce more. Nine songs is, simply, not enough. They need to be cautious, however, of including a wide variety of songs and styles in their future discography. If they’re not careful, I could see the songs starting to blend together and sounding the same.
For now, however, I believe that each song on An Evening With Silk Sonic was brilliantly conceived, and I hope that Silk Sonic is here to stay.