Sunday, December 4, 2011
Robert Owens Creates Art
Legendary vocalist Robert Owens is the voice of house music. This Chicago born vocalist has been on more hit records than you could ever think of either as a solo artist, a member of Fingers Inc, or collaborating with other artists. His catalog is impressive and his voice is so soulful Barry White is jealous so to say he's had one heck of a career would be an understatement. Now, after a well deserved break, he's back with his latest record Art and it features a Fingers Inc reunion with Larry Heard as well as UK studio wizard Atjazz, Munich's Beanfield, and Compost's newest addition, Show-B.
Art is a massive document of songs that's so large it takes two CD's to contain it all and it sees Owens' vocals in fine shape. What's interesting about this release though is, for a man known as the voice of house, there's so little house contained within you’ll be left in bewilderment. I have to admit I was surprised because I was expecting two CD's of 4/4 blinding house music that's soulful and pounding. Instead, what we end up with is one disc of house stormers and a disc of seductive downtempo tunes that will have the ladies swooning with the vapors. In a sense Art is a pre-bar and club package all in one. In other words disc one slowly builds to disc two which finds Robert Owens at home on the dance floor with his vocals soaring over mighty beats and grooves. I have to admit, I was rather worried midway through the first disc. I was left thinking to myself, "Where's the house?" And thankfully 30 seconds into disc two I found it and this was a very good thing.
Both Beanfield and Larry Heard light up the tunes with quality productions that sound as vintage and classic as they do new and fresh. Larry Heard w/Owens is truly something special simply because these two guys were responsible for the whole movement to begin with; it's awesome stuff that melds minimal techno, house, and vocals to hit pay dirt (check out "Be Your Own Hero"). Newcomer Show-B is pretty impressive as well and creates floor fillers as though his life depended on it (see "Rise") and does not disappoint. Atjazz does an awesome job at the downtempo side of Owens and a song like "Hearts and Soul," show what the two of these guys can come up with in fine fashion.
Owens is at home with house with his vocals and approach perfectly designed for this kind of music. Whether it's deep house or full on 4/4 vocal house in a soulful style, Owens vocals simply work in every situation within this genre. He truly is the voice of house music and all you have to do is listen to his range on disc two and you'll see what I mean. Disc two is his home while disc one sees him pushing his range and boundaries and doing a pretty good job of riding the downtempo wave all the way in. Art is a very good record that's packed with so many quality tunes and high end productions that it would be impossible for this record to fail.
Art is proof that proper house music is still alive and well. It also shows that Robert Owens and Larry Heard still have the skills to write hits and rock a dance floor. Art is a special record that anyone who loves house would be stupid to pass up.