Sean Roux - Letters

Sean Roux
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Smooth jazz, Marvin Gaye faux soul and Amos Lee organics all highlight Sean Roux's short digital LP, Letters. The eight-song trek travels like an unplugged set, hinging tightly to its acoustic arrangements. Accordingly, throughout this debut, Roux intentionally leaves out the studio gimmicks, sidestepping most mainstream soul pop conventions and obvious radio appeals.

Smooth jazz, Marvin Gaye faux soul and Amos Lee organics all highlight Sean Roux's short digital LP, Letters. The eight-song trek travels like an unplugged set, hinging tightly to its acoustic arrangements. Accordingly, throughout this debut, Roux intentionally leaves out the studio gimmicks, sidestepping most mainstream soul pop conventions and obvious radio appeals.

Personifying much of Roux’s sound, the finger strumming of the guitar can easily be heard on the opener "Surrendering" and the laidback ballad "Love's Anthem." The latter displays subdued horns and Roux's romantic belting that feels like easy-listening soul with a Miles Davis cool, thanks to the old school process of analog recording. Many of the songs sashay like genre amalgams: "Letters" blend sexy R&B with Latin spice; "Three Little Words" merges twangy guitar with Eric Benet-esque balladry. The Icelandic native (now a Raleigh, North Carolina transplant) even dances with D'Angelo funk on "What to Do," which gives Roux some rhythm to play with even as he exercises more of his falsetto whispers.

Halfway inside, the accompanying guitars and sax kick out a funky freestyle. Only on the genuine closing moments of "Another Way" do we find the album shifting away from its soul explorations into something a tad bit safe. Although it feels slightly out of place, "Another Way" floats on a cloud of acoustic calmness using a Southern-warped Americana that feels just right on Roux's pop-chiseled voice.

The music of Letters largely languishes in a smoky intimate lounge marinade. This moody brew means that Roux's music never quite makes the jump into today’s radio-ready mainstream, even when he's meddling with precocious contemporary R&B. While the album may be succinct in its purpose to entertain and its compositions may be absent some catchy sweet tooth hooks, Roux succeeds in making good music in the moment. Just a little more preparation and strategy would've turned the good to great.

Vocals: 3.0 stars
Music: 3.0 stars
Lyrics: 2.5 stars
Production: 2.5 stars
SoulTracks Call: Recommended

By J. Matthew Cobb

 

 
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