Tuesday, January 29, 2008


How I Do

In a time where product placement and market placement wasn’t the intrusion it is today, How I Do, may have generated more attention and been given a greater push by Res’ record label.
Released in the spring of 2001, the track ‘They-Say Vision’ received minor airplay on MTV, mostly in the fringe hours, but it was an on-air track. But that song, like much of the album, must have been a hard sell in an era of pop divas and ever present catchy singles.
It’s not to say that the album isn’t catchy, just not obnoxiously so. What it lacked was the success, or cheese, factor that modern R&B sometimes falls on to be successful. While R. Kelly may drone on about hiding in the closet endlessly, Res would sing about it concisely and with a better soundtrack. She doesn’t need gimmicks and sings openly about the bullshit in relationships and life in general.
‘Golden Boys’ tears down the plastic model types, whose refrain, ‘Life ain’t a video’ carries the chorus to proper conclusion. ‘Let Love’ works against an eerie Portishead looped melody with a simple scratchy beat. On ‘The Hustler’ the playfulness of her vocals doesn’t betray the attitude. Title track ‘How I Do’ mixes light guitar and dusty scratches dropped in between staggered beats.
Relationships get plenty of coverage on the album. On ‘Ice King’ she sings with tender restraint, How can we grow when we’ve only begun…Loving you don’t make no sense. ‘700 Mile Situation’ is a take on distant relationships, easily the album’s most complicated track. It’s catered with sugar tinged vocals that are half spoken and sung, Everybody wants to know what’s wrong/700 hundred mile situation…Silhouettes painted on the wall/How many times can I say I miss you?...Why can’t you stay with me tonight/What’s your soul taste like, baby? Res takes a run down topic and floats it on the air musically, drifting like a whisper in a lovers ear.
But what sends the album over the top are Res’ subtle vocals. Her voice is sultry and stated, a mixture of Erykah Badu and Stevie Nicks and How I Do is clearly an alternative to modern R&B. She mixes up old school soul, ragged beats and a little rock and roll where funk politely merges with melody. Res is no Mary J. Blige vocally, content to sing smoothly and avoids testifying and over singing to convey emotion. She doesn’t show off, doesn’t have to, and maintains vocals within the confines of each song. Each track is its own character.
But How I Do is hard to typify with all its influences, just as Living Colour’s Vivid was hard to pigeonhole in a particular category. Perhaps that’s what keeps the album fresh.

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