Saturday Soul

Came across two awesome soul jams this morning.

Cutesy but endearing throwback r&b from Danish “electro-soul” group Quadron. In English the word quadron connotes quadrant, as in one of four areas, or more closely, quadroon, as in the old colonial term meaning someone who is one-quarter black. I’d bet the group’s name draws upon the latter definition, although it could just be a completely random name.

I love how Scandinavian groups deal with English in their music. First of all, singing in English seems mandatory for anyone seeking commercial (international) success. But beyond that, although English proficiency is ubiquitous on this scene, Scandinavian singers use English as if it were Swedish, Danish, etc. In other words, they use direct translations rather than relative translations, and with fantastic results. The song’s primary refrain, “I’ve been trying to get you under my pressure” provides a great example. You know what the singer means, but no “native” English speaker would ever say “under my pressure.” (It’s quite possible that expression would have utility in Danish). And yet, “under my pressure”…I love it!

This linguistic oddity of Scandinavian music in English causes the English listener to approach his/her native tongue from a different perspective. “When you look at me deepest/ I see myself at my weakest” is another great example. I suppose you could use “deepest” in place of “deeply” despite that it’s technically improper, but regardless, “deepest” resonates as quite poetic. As I continue to explore music in this part of Europe, I hope to notice more of these unique language twists.

The second track I am posting as much for the video as the music. I came across it by accident, as is the case with the best discoveries. A cover of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” by the ever-enigmatic soul singer Bilal, this version of the song features an excellent and eclectic backing band including a violinist and a piano-Rhodes-organ trio.

Notice how Bilal meshes his vocals into the instrumentation, organic but deliberate at the same time. I love how he jumps around at 4:03, really investing his whole body into the music. 4:16-4:26 is pure genius. At 5:17 he becomes band leader, conducting the drummer to accelerate his hits and building the energy of the song back up. I would love to have been in that room.

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