Shawn Lee

Sing a Song

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Producer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee doesn't like to remain in the same musical territory for long. His lifetime fascinations with hip-hop, soul, funk, jazz, pop, and psychedelia have taken him to some interesting places over the course of 13 albums. Along with his wide-ranging musical interests, the notion of collaboration has also been a large factor in his development. Sing a Song, while not a direct follow-up, revisits some of the themes explored on 2009's Soul in the Hole. Where that recording featured some collaborations, primarily with singers, Sing a Song is almost a complete set of collaborations with singers and musicians -- the exceptions are the Laurel Canyon-inspired folk meets Sunset Strip sunshine pop of "I'll Just Wait a While" and the finger-popping tripped-out doo wop of "Swimming Pool." One of the things this set proves is that Lee can add "singer" to his résumé. Check out the opener, "Shut Up and Learn," a Memphis cum psychedelic soul-inspired duet with Orgone's fantastic frontwoman, Fanny Franklin. Lee's falsetto can actually hang with Franklin's open-throated R&B wail. "It Takes Two" features former Motown songwriter and recording artist Marcus Malone. The original song the two penned is worthy of Malone's heritage at the Detroit label. "Who Are You?," with Bing Ji Ling of the Phenomenal Handclap Band, is a funky reggae-flavored number with a Latin tinge. Other standouts include a new version of "Fading Light," where Lee collaborates with Lord Large and Robert Bradley (an earlier version of the cut appeared on a LL disc), a slippery nocturnal groover called "Older" with Miles Bonney (which may be the set's finest track), and the humorous steamy hip-hop soul of "Christopher Walken on Sunshine" with Princess Superstar. While not as groundbreaking as some of Lee's other recordings, Sing a Song is consistent, full of pleasant surprises, and the perfect record for hot summer nights.

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