Aloe Blacc featuring the Grand Scheme, Maya Jupiter, DJRC | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Aloe Blacc featuring the Grand Scheme, Maya Jupiter, DJRC Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Nov. 12, 10 p.m. 2010

I enjoyed the warped but organic electronic/acoustic arrangements and sprawling hodgepodge of hip-hop, neosoul, Brazilian pop, and salsa on Aloe Blacc's 2006 debut, Shine Through, so at first the streamlined approach this LA singer, producer, and MC takes on his recent second album, Good Things (Stones Throw), put me off. This time out the man born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III embraces socially conscious 70s-style soul, with a particular affinity for Bill Withers and Donny Hathaway. The album is a collaboration with Truth & Soul Productions—aka Leon Michels and Jeff Silverman, who also worked on Lee Fields's killer My World—and their punchy horn and string charts help cover for the lack of range in Blacc's reedy voice, allowing him to concentrate on his agile, expertly expressive phrasing. The elegant, hooky tunes are based on deep, simmering midtempo soul grooves, with touches of reggae and funk here and there, and though the lyrics aren't especially profound, they're timely—the lead track, "I Need a Dollar," is the theme song of HBO series How to Make It in America. Blacc also gets extra points for his cover of the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale," turning it into a portrait of a wounded man who's had a brush with the woman in question. He'll be backed here by his band, the Grand Scheme; Maya Jupiter and DJRC open. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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