Omar - The Man (2013)

Omar
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Seven years have passed since Omar released his last album; Sing (If You Want It). That album featured collaborations with Estelle, Angie Stone and Stevie Wonder, to name a few. Omar now returns with his latest project, The Man, an album that will probably be one of the funkier records you will hear all year.

Seven years have passed since Omar released his last album; Sing (If You Want It). That album featured collaborations with Estelle, Angie Stone and Stevie Wonder, to name a few. Omar now returns with his latest project, The Man, an album that will probably be one of the funkier records you will hear all year.

Perhaps no song is a better example of Omar’s decision to double down on the funk than “High Heels,” a tune that has a Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band groove. It tells the story of a man confronting a lady who has a habit of putting on her party clothes, hitting the streets and not returning until 3 a.m. However, this is not a song performed by a pleading and confused guy.  The track is assertive and accusatory. That assertive tone is set by the honking saxophone introduction. Soon, the rhythm section steps to the fore with the bass player laying down a funky shuffle and drummer adding a percussive sense of urgency that is matched by Omar’s muscular vocal. This song alone is worth the price of admission.

That being said, The Man has so much more to offer. Omar’s latest record doesn’t include the number of collaborations found on Sing (If You Want It). However, when Omar seeks help, the collaborator more than delivers the goods. Caron Wheeler and Omar renew their working relationship on the duet “Treat You.” Omar again puts his rhythm section in the spotlight on this jam that features a minimalist stepper’s arrangement. The track finds Omar seeking a second chance while Wheeler resists and wonders what will make round two any different than round one. Omar wails,  “Girl you got something special/sweet something I can feel /please don’t take that away from me/I learned my lesson hard/I should don’t take for granted/cuz you are the best of me/,” while Wheeler provides the tart response: “How can I be sure this is the right time/you’ve been known before to fail so miserably/should I make mistakes that sting me for a lifetime/I know I’ve got the answer/I know I’ve got the key.”

Omar shows his ability to move between different musical styles and to switch tempos. “Eeni Meeni Myno Mo” has a bossa nova jazz feel, while “Can I Listen” has a classic Memphis soul sound.  On “Simplify” Omar returns to the neo-soul/acid jazz sound that brought him to the attention of people such as Wonder and Stone.

Long musical layoffs are often like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Some performers come back with the rust showing or a sound that is dated rather than classic. The Man showcases Omar as an artist who made good use of the time he spent in the woodshed and his fans will benefit from the hard work. This is the kind of knock-your-socks-off return that you wish for every legendary artist. Highly Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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