Bashiri Asad - The Way We Are (2019)

Bashiri Asad
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Bashiri Asad - The Way We Are

Bashiri Asad seeks to create music that will be the soundtrack of his life, as well as the lives of his listeners. A black family man and Midwesterner, Asad is a veteran of the Indy and indie music scenes. The soundtrack of his life features artists such as Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire and Mint Condition – groups and individuals that created a rich and distinct sound driven by musicians playing instruments. 

Bashiri Asad - The Way We Are

Bashiri Asad seeks to create music that will be the soundtrack of his life, as well as the lives of his listeners. A black family man and Midwesterner, Asad is a veteran of the Indy and indie music scenes. The soundtrack of his life features artists such as Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire and Mint Condition – groups and individuals that created a rich and distinct sound driven by musicians playing instruments. 

Asad’s projects possess a rich organic sound that comes from working with a band. That band, the Indianapolis based group called Be On It, features C.J. Garfield on the keyboard, Jesse Thompson on bass, Terry Adams on auxiliary keys/organ, and Joe Elliot III on drums. Be On It backed Asad on his excellent 2017 album A Girl Named Charlie, a record inspired by his wife whose nickname is Charlie, and is back on his latest project, The Way We Are.

The Way We Are includes ten original tunes and a cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Harvest For The World. Asad opts for a straight forward cover of the Isley classic, only switching it up by including a rapped verse. Still, that song fits in with what Asad seeks to achieve throughout The Way We Are. The record is about love in its broadest definitions. Romantic love yes, but also love of life, love in the midst of struggle, love of humanity and cautionary tales about predators who use love to trap their prey.

Asad is a disciplined singer who works well with his band. He knows when the pull back and give a tune a conversational vibe that opens space for Be On It to infuse Afro-Caribbean percussion and jazz flourishes - including improvisation from saxophonist Jerome Sloss - into the mid-tempo ballad “Transparency.” Asad can then turn around and mix his voice into an aggressive, forward leaning weapon on “I Am,” where his vocals mesh with the staccato pace set by the band. Asad’s showcases his range on the ballad “So Amazing,” a track propelled by the interplay between Asad’s vocal and some nuanced jazz piano creativity by Garfield on a track that finds the vocalist expressing wonder at the love he has found with his wife.  Additionally, the skills of Be On It allow Asad to include rap verses into tracks such as up-tempo funk party jam “Just Be” in a way that feels natural rather than forced.

The love lane appeared to have exhausted all of its possibilities among younger music listeners. Still, a new generation of artists are moving into the lane that Asad never really left. He remains there for the good reason that he’s an old-fashioned romantic, but also because his balladry, mid-tempo crooning, and organic funk are what he does best and is most comfortable with. That comfort comes through on The Way We Are, an album that is a throwback to a time when records were an organic balance of ballads, mid-tempo love songs and party anthems. Solidly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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