Steve Arrington - Higher

Steve Arrington
Steve Arrington & Dam Funk Higher.jpg
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Steve Arrington may be funk’s version of Snoop Lion. Arrington, like Long Beach’s own, infuses his vocals with a slow drawl that sometimes sounds twangy. Arrington has never been known for his vocal range, even during his salad days as the lead singer of the funk outfit Slave or during a solo career that yielded hits such as “Way Out,” “Weak at the Knees” and “Dancing in the Key of Life.”

When Arrington is at his best when given material that plays to his strengths as a funk vocalist. His best work with Slave and as a solo artist featured attention grabbing instrumentals and tight, focused lyrical content. Think about tracks such as “Just a Touch of Love,” with that thumping bass line and those seductive backing vocals. Arrington’s monotone drawl fit. He was, in many ways, the quintessential funk singer – a vocal minimalist who didn’t mind sharing the glory with his instrumentalists (especially the bass player, who was often the star of the show).

Steve Arrington may be funk’s version of Snoop Lion. Arrington, like Long Beach’s own, infuses his vocals with a slow drawl that sometimes sounds twangy. Arrington has never been known for his vocal range, even during his salad days as the lead singer of the funk outfit Slave or during a solo career that yielded hits such as “Way Out,” “Weak at the Knees” and “Dancing in the Key of Life.”

When Arrington is at his best when given material that plays to his strengths as a funk vocalist. His best work with Slave and as a solo artist featured attention grabbing instrumentals and tight, focused lyrical content. Think about tracks such as “Just a Touch of Love,” with that thumping bass line and those seductive backing vocals. Arrington’s monotone drawl fit. He was, in many ways, the quintessential funk singer – a vocal minimalist who didn’t mind sharing the glory with his instrumentalists (especially the bass player, who was often the star of the show).

Higher, the latest record from Arrington and the Los Angeles based musician and producer Damon G. “Dam Funk” Riddick, contains songs that spotlight Arrington’s strengths but also reveal his limitations. The ballad “Do You Feel Me” stands as an example of a track that plays to Arrington’s virtues, from the lush harmonies heard in the song’s hook to the slow driving funk featured in the bass line and lyrics that keep the focus on Arrington expressing his feelings toward his lady.

Higher loses that focus on tracks such as  “The Way I Feel About You,” on which Arrington sings about making the major next step in the relationship: introducing the lady to his family. Unfortunately, the track fails to maintain the theme's focus, clocking in at six and a half minutes (about two minute longer than it needed to be) and leading Arrington to take it in directions that stray from the story of taking his shorty to meet mama.

Higher serves as a comeback of sorts for Arrington after his tepid foray into gospel. Arrington is more comfortable and confident when singing secular music.  Sometimes when an artist stretches out creatively he can lose focus. That happens for the talented Steve Arrington on Higher, an ambitious and experimental project that takes Arrington to both creative high points as well as areas that don't play to his strengths. Moderately Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

 
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