Soul and jazz enthusiasts alike are getting a shot of vitality this August in the form of Robert Starks & the Diamondtones Danceband’s reissue of the Congaman classic “Text-MEE-Baby,” and though the song was originally released way back in 2010 (to critical acclaim, I might add), it sounds as fresh as it ever did in this latest incarnation. Led by a gentle percussive swagger, “Text-MEE-Baby” is an anthem for lonesome lovers as much as it is a personalized tribute from Starks to the fusion standards of yesteryear. It’s an identity piece, but more importantly, it’s an accessible, fun slab of jazz might.
There’s so much emotion in every aspect of this track, from the vocal right down to the efficient cadence of the beats. As I see it, the grooves are responsible for defining the mood in “Text-MEE-Baby” more than anything else is, and they do a great job of forging a nice, melodic center in the midst of the hurricane of harmonies that surround them around every twist and turn in the verses. It’s an action-packed ballad, but Starks keeps everything running tightly enough to ensure that the music never devolves into something that’s unlistenable or unacceptable to mainstream audiences as well as indie disciples.
Everything in this single was constructed as to center on the lush bassline, but I like that the low-end tones don’t drown out any of the color in the vocal or the percussion. There have been scores of songs created in the same style as this one seeing release in 2019, but more often than not they’ve been plagued with an oversaturated bassline (something that instantly turns me, and many critics my age, off). That isn’t an issue in “Text-MEE-Baby,” nor has it ever been much of a problem in any of the music that Robert Starks & the Diamondtones Danceband have attached their moniker to.
This mix makes the recording sound more like a live performance than it does a studio cut pieced together after hours of precise rehearsing. Right from the get-go in “Text-MEE-Baby,” we’re made to feel as though we’re in the front row of a smoke-filled nightclub, looking on as Starks takes to the stage with the mic in one hand and a glass of cognac in the other. He’s a smooth operator, and much like his band, presents us with an unvarnished musicality that sounds and feels raw, real and totally uncorrupted by technological augmentation.
Those who consider themselves to be keen on soul, jazz and interesting urban pop would be quite wise to pick themselves up a copy of “Text-MEE-Baby” this month, if for no other reason than to add a critical piece of modern indie jazz mastery to their record collection. There isn’t another artist currently active in his scene today making the kind of forward-thinking material that he is, and I think that you would be hard-pressed to find another songwriter of his caliber making the impact on his genre that he inevitably will through the rerelease of this incredible single this season. Starks and his band are the real deal, and that just can’t be said for many of their rivals nowadays.
The music of ROBERT STARKS & THE DIAMONDTONES has been heard all over the world due to the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Records. Learn more – https://musikandfilm.com
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