Bashiri Asad - A Girl Named Charlie (2017)

Bashiri Asad
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Bashiri Asad - A Girl Named Charlie

Okay, here’s the setup. About 10 days ago a person who is a good friend of mine both on Facebook and in real life started lamenting about the state of music. His complaints encapsulated many of the bullet points hit by a lot of the critics of contemporary R&B, but his biggest problem was the lack of romance that he heard in many popular songs of the day. Basically, he longed for the lyricism he heard back in the day from the likes of the Isley Brothers and Earth, Wind & Fire.

There are plenty of contemporary artists who really seek to hone the craft and seek ways to merge the best of the old with what is happening now. It’s just that many of those artists don’t get airplay, meaning fans have to make an effort to find them.

Bashiri Asad - A Girl Named Charlie

Okay, here’s the setup. About 10 days ago a person who is a good friend of mine both on Facebook and in real life started lamenting about the state of music. His complaints encapsulated many of the bullet points hit by a lot of the critics of contemporary R&B, but his biggest problem was the lack of romance that he heard in many popular songs of the day. Basically, he longed for the lyricism he heard back in the day from the likes of the Isley Brothers and Earth, Wind & Fire.

There are plenty of contemporary artists who really seek to hone the craft and seek ways to merge the best of the old with what is happening now. It’s just that many of those artists don’t get airplay, meaning fans have to make an effort to find them.

A couple of days later, I opened my e-mail and saw a file from Indianapolis based singer and songwriter Bashiri Asad that contained his latest EP A Girl Named Charlie. After the first song, a mid-tempo ballad titled “Come To Me,” my point was pretty much made.

Indy native Asad is known throughout the city both for his original work as well as live shows that pay tribute to soul legends such as Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers. Asad also cut a Gil-Scott Heron tribute album in 2015. So Asad brings an understanding of classic soul to his work. Asad says that he doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying that his analog worldview in today’s digital world will limit his appeal.

I don't worry so much about keeping up, or arranging things in a way so that a certain demographic will listen to it. My goal is to make music that everyone will want to listen to,” Asad told the Indy based alternative newspaper Nuvo in a 2016 interview.

Asad’s self-assurance pays off nicely on A Girl Named Charlie, a record featuring the full diversity offered within the topic of the love song. There is “Don’t Get Married Sherry,” a soulfully sweet ballad that features church organs and a story of a man who embarks on a journey from Indiana to Georgia after the grandmother of an old girlfriend gives him the heads up about his ex’s upcoming nuptials.

The aforementioned “Come To Me” is a blues/soul ballad that might have been right at home at Stax records. Here, Asad deploys his silky tenor to set a relaxing scene for his lady after a long day. “close your eyes/relax your mind/lay your head on my chest/unwind/let your troubles fade away/save them for another day.”

The up-tempo “Get Into It,” with percussive bass line and hand claps, is a number that seeks to inspire people to shake off those blues and just enjoy themselves. The cut combines the joy of a church praise song with the call to shake off those blues and hit the party scene.

The title track is an upbeat ode to the quintessential good woman placed in a musical arrangement featuring drums that give the number a march feel and that ever-present church inspired keyboard work. Asad might want to think about giving the creators of the TV show “Queen Sugar” a heads up about this tune since one of the female leads in that drama goes by the name Charlie. Just a suggestion. A Girl Named Charlie is musical reminder that the musical pickings aren’t as slim as the mainstream leads us to believe. And it is a real treat when you find a winner like this. Strongly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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