REVIEW: Aloe Blacc’s “Lift Your Spirit”!

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While this is actually his third album, Aloe Blacc is finally making his mark in the music industry…even if you don’t realize you’ve heard his music before.  He sang the vocals on Avicii‘s massive hit “Wake Me Up” (an acoustic version of that track appears here), and his first single, “The Man”, was featured in a Beats by Dre commercial featuring Kevin Garnett.  Oh, and “Can You Do This” was featured in Ellen DeGeneres Superbowl commercial.  Not bad promo eh?

Aloe Blacc is getting a big push from his label, and with good reason: Lift Your Spirit will easily be one of the best, if not the best, album you’ll hear in 2014.  The 35-year-old from Orange County has the uplifting sound of Stevie Wonder with the social conscious of Marvin Gaye.  Aloe is creating music like no one else in modern R&B music.  He manages to channel a Motown mentality without sounding dated.  The lyrics, which focus on self-reflection and philosophizing about life, could be corny, but are actually powerful because Aloe sings them with such emotion.

aloeThe guy can get you dancing with “Can You Do This” (as Ellen learned), make you want to put your lighter in the air with the self-empowering “The Man”, get your head bopping on “Love Is The Answer”, and makes his vocals shine on the quieter version of “Wake Me Up”.  “Chasing” sounds like a street parade in New Orleans, “Lift Your Spirit” would make anyone feel better on a bad day, while possibly the best track on the album, “Ticking Bomb”, has a restrained groove that could explode at any moment.   All the upbeat production doesn’t mean he can’t slow it down too.  Beyonce would probably love to take a crack at the slow grooving and sexy “Red Velvet Seat”, while “Eyes Of A Child” closes the album with Aloe giving his advice on how to live life.

Aloe Blacc boldly wears his heart on his sleeve on Lift Your Spirit. It could have been laughable, but it works. Really well.  He manages to channel the pioneers of R&B music, but still sounds like a current artist.  With his third effort, he finally makes a major stake in mainstream music.  This is a can’t miss album.

Grade:  A


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