Please accept our apologies: Frank Ocean just didn’t do it for us when it came to serving the very real and very present need for a more modern soul music. We still you miss you so, Amy, but the reality is that neo-Motown has quickly become a new albatross (or, perhaps, an Adele-tross); could it be that, in retro-mania, R&B and soul is backing into the same blasted recycling trap that has pretty much claimed the whole of rock and roll? This is distressing. It’s really distressing.
Which is part of why we want Steven A. Clark to become famous immediately, report to the parking lot where Ocean and Chris Brown are fighting over scraps, and tell everybody to be cool. Clark is possessed of a smoky, ancient voice, hails from Fayetville, North Carolina, now resides in NYC, and, according to his publicist, “is a top forerunner in the Future RnB movement, spearheading a confident and new type of indie-rock and hip hop infused rhythm and blues that belies their young age.” But forget you just read that: Joe Tex could have told you, Donny Hathaway could have told you, D’Angelo would probably still like to tell you that soul is a lonely, solitary pursuit; it is the art of chasing ghosts of feelings. And “Bounty” is both a total revelation and exemplary lesson in all of this.
Recorded here in Philly as part of the ongoing Weathervane/Shaking Through sessions, it is also that project’s single finest outing to date. And while we still believe that we, as a people, will never be truly free until we stop funding music through Kickstarter, the fact is, here are some results that you can’t argue with: “Bounty” is an absolute monster of a track, haunting and desperate and just a little unhinged in the way that any great love song has to be. Apparently, it’s also one of those tunes that is in the human DNA; its chorus is a worm buried in your brain that has been waiting until just now to fill up that room in your head with a cigarette binge that won’t be over until all the records and laundry are on the floor and you know, finally, the true extent of what it is to be alone.