From the very moment that the eponymous opener spills from the speakers, one can’t help but be transported back to the golden era of socially conscious artistry, where music served as the conduit for discussions on racial equality and political upheaval. Its chant-like, spoken-word manifesto evokes the indomitable spirits of trailblazers like Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, echoing a sonic clarion call on the complexities of identity—a call that, distressingly, still echoes through the decades. One can’t help but wonder, does anything ever truly change?
Release DateJanuary 1, 2022
Black Desire (LP) - Joe Lington (R&B) Last week, we got to listen to Joe Lington’s latest EP, “WTPA”, a trio of R&B tracks that we said was a solid preview of his upcoming EP. This week, we go back to last year and review his most recent LP, “Black Desire” (his fourth), another R&B gem tinged in retro with a sprinkling of 90s dance influences as well. Again, Joe shows off his bilingual skills by bouncing between French and English, showcasing his crystal clear instrumental mixing. The production is much less minimalist than WTPA, providing a multi-layered, rich sound with clear instrument separation in the mix, which is a tribute to his production abilities (he does this all himself y’all). With a background in gospel choir, Joe is trained music producer in both mixing and mastering, and claims both Sisqo and Keith Sweat as his influences, with favorite albums by Mary J, Toni Braxton and Usher. We can certainly hear these references all over “Black Desire”, along with some other influences. The LP kicks off with the title track, almost an introduction of sorts as it rests in a spoken word poetry style, explaining that the title of the album describes the pervasiveness of the need for black people to implement code switching, as their ambition and drive will not be viewed the same as that of another race. “It’s Gonna Be Alright - Remix” kicks off the suite of tracks with straight Usher vibes, as if lifted from the “Confessions” album. "Mamacita" places a latin flare on top of a gritty 90s synth bass lead to make a real hip winder, while "Je Pleure" takes a surprising turn into 90s house for the most Top 40 friendly number of the bunch. We even get some fun spoken features by a gaggle of girls that made us think of the intro to Sir Mix-a-lot's "Baby Got Back" or Kanye's intro to "Work Out Plan". A taste of "Marshmallow" follows with a quiet storm R&B vibe underlying a rock guitar riff, making us crave a longer version of the track. "Ce Soir" slows things down even further with a beautiful 90s Toni Braxton-like ballad, layered with rich vocal chorals like a 112 track. "I Can't See You" takes us back to Usher territory where Joe dusts off his falsetto to show you he has range not just as a producer/artist, but also as a vocalist, before the "On se complete - Remix" sees the return of the rock guitar, which quickly gives way to a TLC sounding bass bop. This track is one of our favorites on the album. The final suite of songs are introduced with "Pretty Girl", with "Because Of You" giving another twinkling ballad before ending with dance floor spinner "On Dance", rounding out the LP with an eclectic mix of instrumentation, styles and tempos that show the full breadth of Joe's talent. It's refreshing to have a cohesive, well plotted and thoughtfully sequenced album that has genre exploration centered on core sound. An impressive, multi-talented one man band, Joe Lington does his inspirations proud on “Black Desire”.