I won’t pretend. You wouldn’t want me to. I came into this review not knowing much about smooth jazz. I had plenty of preconceived and stereotypical notions about what the term means and, frankly, equated it with elevator music, Muzak, cocktail jazz. Nothing capable of conveying anything with musical, much less artistic, weight.
It was the wrong attitude to take. If you come at Le Sonic’s “I’ll Be the One” judging its merits by off-base standards, you’ll come away with a misguided impression of its strengths. Longtime music world insiders Mike Rogers, co-producer of the all-world hit “Grrove Is In the Heart” from the 1990’s, and Gary Lefkowith recently formed the duo Le Sonic and they’ve already made a deep impact, The critical praise they’ve received already has been meaningful, but hitting No. #1 on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Chart with their debut “Any Moment” is even more so.
“I’ll Be the One” will experience the same, if not greater, success. The key stroke towards accomplishing that end is featuring the outstanding talents of lead vocalist Lauren Beluzo. Beluzo, an onetime American Idol participant and two-time winner of Amateur Night at the Apollo, has stunning control and the ability to get under a song’s skin.
I enjoyed listening to the clear orchestration she has in her voice. It’s easy for me to picture her with her eyes closed, head rolling slowly from side to side, as she delivers each line of the song with almost reverential nuance. I say almost. It’s never too precious, cute, but instead teeming with life. She does possess a, perhaps, smoky sort of ambiance in her timbre that will unquestionably attract the attention of many listeners.
The piano seemingly dances throughout the performance, lightly sprinkling its touch across the song’s duration, and it brings a strong percussive pulse to “I’ll Be the One”. It’s clear that Le Sonic weren’t ever seeking to breach new ground with the release of this new single, but it is far from a retread. They are expanding their canvas while remaining scrupulously faithful to their core sound.
Robert Lee, guitarist for The Mysterians, drops in some particularly tasty guitar fills. He makes equally important contributions elsewhere during the song, but it’s during those brief flashes of spotlight when listeners feel the full measure of his talents. His guitar possesses much of the same “vocal” tone as the piano and, in particular, Beluzo’s singing.
The aforementioned piano and brush drumming come together to supply the track with a strong rhythm track. Rpgers’ production experience undoubtedly has a strong influence on the sound of the track and the mix, especially, reaches an ideal balance between the instruments. Everything about this track is tailored towards experiencing the same level of success as its predecessor. They do it with ever hitting a false note. It’s a product of the years of combined experience driving this song, absolutely, but it’s also something more. Le Sonic has pure inspiration working in their favor and you hear it throughout their new single “I’ll Be the One”.
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