Harmony is undeniably at the heart of all forward-thinking R&B, but in the case of the new single “It’s a Feeling” by RockLee, it’s at the center of every emotive moment the track provides us. With singer Mel Pacifico setting the mood out of the gate and Uness ascending the lyrics with a taste of old-school soul, RockLee didn’t need to get virtuosic with the instrumentation to make a statement here – but still, he doesn’t shortchange us on surreal fireworks. With a casual touch of postmodern melodicism, we’re gifted one of the smoother R&B hybrids of the summer to date, and a song I think everyone needs to be spinning this July.
Mel and Uness really work this groove rather brilliantly, and although I hadn’t heard them work together before, RockLee seems to bring the best out of both subjects rather seamlessly here. His groove complements the new jack swing-style crooning the latter is utilizing as much as it does the balladic vocal the former is giving up, which is a lot harder than it might seem on paper. Their chemistry is off the charts, but without a facilitator like the one we’ve got at the foundation of the track, it likely wouldn’t be as accessible as it is in this instance.
Rhythm is always a catalyst for catharsis in “It’s a Feeling,” and I really love how well the understated percussive element in this mix sets the mood up for the lyrics. There’s no separation between the expressiveness of the vocals and that of the drums, and this could only be the result of precision producing. RockLee is as much a sonic wizard in this performance as he is an arranger of the Quincy Jones tradition, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to develop next.
“It’s a Feeling” is a must-listen if you haven’t already heard it yet, but judging from the way it’s blowing up north of the border, I have a gut feeling telling me that most Canadian readers are already vibing this artist’s style. RockLee has been making quite the splash in recent years, and although competition from American players is as strong as it’s ever been before, this latest release could be one that breaks his influence into the southern realm so many of his contemporaries have spent whole careers trying to access. He’s earned the cred, and I like what this collaboration with Mel Pacifico and Uness shows off for his brand of instrumental indulgence.
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