While we believe that R&B is far from dead, there are times when modern R&B can feel a bit, well, stagnant. It's a rare occasion these days to find mainstream male R&B artists who dare to push the boundaries of the form, let alone take its subject matter beyond the same old love songs. Thankfully, we've got someone like Russell Taylor, who is defying genre norms with his latest effort Tin Man: The Blue.
On Tin Man: The Blue, Russell dives deep into his own consciousness to explore his own humanity. Our first listen of the project came with its lead single "Thrill." The song, which delves into the different types of thrills that we chase just to feel alive, was the perfect intro to the set, keeping us on edge as we try to guess what's next. The same can be said of the rest of the set. Though the songs collected here each have a mellow feel, they take on different aspects. "Come Home" covers the romantic, with driving percussive rhythm that pulls the listener in like a tide as he pleads with his love to return. Then there's "Wide Awake," which finds Russell finding inspiration to open his eyes to the world surrounding him with perhaps one of the more pop-leaning songs of his career.
Then there are two completely surprising inclusions sure to make listeners hear Russell in a whole new light. First up is an unexpected cover of Whitney Houston's "Dance With Somebody." In his hands, it goes from a poppy, bubbly request to a moody, soul-searing cry — especially as it only features bass and Russell's raspy vocal (when he previewed the track at a listening party for the EP this week, it stunned many in attendance and earned well-deserved praise). And last, but certainly not least, is "Superman," a haunting song featuring vocals from Lalah Hathaway in which he contemplates how to save his own relationship and ultimately find the hero in himself.
As mentioned previously, we were able to get an advance listen to the project earlier this week and got to experience the EP with Russell and a select few others, which definitely left an impression. He offered that Tin Man: The Blue would be the first in a trilogy of EPs, with other primary colors, red and yellow, being used to express the different facets of what it is to be a black man in America. If the other EPs in the trilogy are anything like experiencing The Blue, listeners are in for an intimate listening experience that showcases the depths of his talents and his soul. We're definitely looking forward to hearing what else is in store. Stream Tin Man: The Blue below and be sure to support good music by purchasing it from your retailer of choice.