When it comes to making modern soul music, few young artists are as adept and skilled as DR King is, and he demonstrates his abilities in the all-new EP It’s My Life. Out this late February, It’s My Life discharges a contemporary blend of soul and R&B that not only isn’t bound by the creative, political and technological limitations of its forerunners, but is in fact a product of a much larger tree of influences that extends into rock, pop, jazz and even psychedelia. “Do You Love Me” and “Your Body” throw down a bass-heavy hammer that carves out the perfect patch of rhythm for King to color with his smoky voice, and though “Anyway” and “Crying Alone” touch on a self-consciousness that is somewhat melancholic on the surface, together they impart an optimism that is more than refreshing in 2019 – from where I stand, we straight up need it.
The chemistry between DR King and the assortment of players comprising his backing band in It’s My Life is excellent and sounds completely natural and unforced, especially in more complicated efforts like “Love is a Drug,” the protest anthem “Gravedigger” and “Your Body.” Clearly everything is built on the foundation of the lyrical content in these songs, but there’s a noticeably sterling instrumental quality to this record that you just don’t find everyday in R&B anymore. King plays with poppy constructions in “Crying Alone” and “Do You Love Me,” but never completely immerses himself in radio- friendly varnish. He might have been on The Voice, but I don’t get the impression that he’s an indie-sellout at all (actually, quite the contrary).
There’s a lot of sonic layers for us to dig through in songs like “Anyway” and “Your Body,” and it all starts with their beefy basslines. Though muted at the onset of “Your Body,” it doesn’t take very long for the low-end tonality to ensnare us in its vicious weightiness, which King duels with in “Anyway,” and briefly, in “Love is a Drug.” The drum patterns that make “Anyway” the growling groove ballad that it is aren’t stock or even similar to anything else on the Billboard Charts right now; they represent a facet of experimentalism that, while mostly ignored during his time on The Voice, is a wild force to be reckoned with in this release, and likely will be in all of his future cuts as well. Hearing It’s My Life makes me all the more excited to see a full length studio album from DR King, and if we’re lucky, it won’t be too much longer before he gifts us a sprawling collection of songs born of the same effervescent tonality that we find plentifully in this record. I’ve been keeping a close eye on DR King since he first came to the attention of American audiences, and he’s still yet to stop growing and developing his sound with each track that he releases. It’s My Life is a simple but robust salutation to a world that is ready for an artist of his caliber to take the reins of R&B once more, and I wholeheartedly give it an emphatic stamp of approval.
Photo credit Melissa Scheetz