Silk - Quiet Storm (2016)

Silk
silk_quiet_storm_0.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

"...Thinkin' about you, this song came to mind, so I asked the fellas to help me sing along, to let you know how much I care about you. In case you wanna know, their name is Silk, and Baby you know who I am, So I think we'll just count it down like this...."

For many R&B fans, the aforementioned spoken intro by Keith Sweat was the first time they ever heard of the five-man singing collective known as Silk. They added adlibs and ardent harmonies to a pair of Sweat's tracks on his 1991 CD, Keep It Comin', before exploding onto the charts with their own debut, Lose Control, and its salacious none-too-subtle No. 1 single, "Freak Me."

"...Thinkin' about you, this song came to mind, so I asked the fellas to help me sing along, to let you know how much I care about you. In case you wanna know, their name is Silk, and Baby you know who I am, So I think we'll just count it down like this...."

For many R&B fans, the aforementioned spoken intro by Keith Sweat was the first time they ever heard of the five-man singing collective known as Silk. They added adlibs and ardent harmonies to a pair of Sweat's tracks on his 1991 CD, Keep It Comin', before exploding onto the charts with their own debut, Lose Control, and its salacious none-too-subtle No. 1 single, "Freak Me."

They weren't the only male R&B group on the scene, of course, but due to their air-tight vocals and alternating sweet and steamy catalog ("Girl You For Me," "Meeting In My Bedroom," "Lose Control," "Hooked On You," etc.), the Atlanta-formed quintet were able to stand apart from, and at times, toe-to-toe with, musical peers like Jodeci, Dru Hill, Boyz II Men, Tony Toni Tone and Mint Condition. Miraculously, despite the label implosions that tore asunder many a musical career, all five original members (Johnathan "John John" Rasboro, Gary "Big G" Glenn, Gary "Lil' G" Jenkins and cousins Timothy "Timzo" Cameron and Jimmy Gates Jr.) have endured the ebb and flow of the times and returned to their signature stylings for CD No. 7, Quiet Storm.

The elements that insured their success----songs about romance, lovemaking and, umm, beyond----are what's highlighted on this newest set, just with more emphasis on passion and togetherness instead of just raw lust and acrobatics. It's an inevitable shift in subject matter but a welcome one, given that they're no longer 20-somethings and few things are as pitiful as men at 40-plus acting like sex-starved jocks.

Does that mean Silk is only about flowers, slow moonlit walks and chaste kisses on the cheek while the night is still young? Not quite. "Hey Ladies, put your panties in the air/and wave them like you just don't care. Hop on the pole...." is heard in "Baby Suit," one of ...Storm's most forthright numbers, as is the tantalizing, blue-light-ready mid-tempo "Slow Grind" ("Gonna move up real close behind ya, teach you somethin' that I learned in the islands") and the panting title track that recalls the unhurried, back-in-the-day B-sides that resulted in baby booms nine months after their release ("Let me love you girl, let me kiss you down/let me be the one to make you make that sound."). Even the one 'baby-I-messed-up' groove, "I Love You," morphs into an apology that should only be rendered behind dropped blinds (and soundproofed walls).

But in-between the sheet-rippers, fans of Silk's romantic side will find enjoyment as well, thanks to the single  "Love 4 U 2 Like Me," an adoring  acknowledgement of the need for love (and whatever takes place afterwards) to develop in the fullness of time ("We can take it slow, we ain't gotta rush/that's where dudes go wrong, tryna do too much"). "Billionaire," one of the more upbeat jams, proclaims his lady to be the one asset enriching his life on every level, as well as the pulsating monogamy ode, "She's The One." Throughout the Storm, what stands out most prominently is their prowess as performers, a blend that Silk's developed over the years and can turn even the more mundane of the tracks (like the Prince-cloning "Baby Maker") into enjoyable diversions.

It's hard to believe that more than 20 years have passed since Keith Sweat introduced Silk to the masses: not just because they've happened to age so well, but because these ATL natives still possess the chops and the vigor that made their music so essential for us in the beginning. With Spring, anniversaries and new romances just around the corner, Silk's Quiet Storm feels like a welcome shower after a long drought, reminding fans how much they've been missed. Download it, find an umbrella (or not) and soak that Storm up. Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
Album of the Month - Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu
Choice Cut - Kea Michaels - "Not My Friend"
Song of the Month - Bryan Andrew Wilson - "Only You'

Leave a comment!