I have been waiting a LONG time for this! Finally, AfterSix Productions (A6P) has blessed us with the long-awaited release What Love Is, a collection of smooth grooves and tight lyrics centered around love and relationships. The project was made available January 1, 2015 on Bandcamp (http://aftersixproductions.bandcamp.com). What a wonderful New Year’s Day gift!
I first introduced you to What Love Is back in March 2012 (Read Mr. Fresh and The Sunday Soundtrack) when I wrote about Doug Ramsay, one half of the A6P team. Dan McCollum rounds out this talented duo of musicians and music producers. I was privileged to interview them back in August 2013 and they are quite an amazing team (Click here for the link to the interview). Aside from the music itself, I appreciate the title of the release. Instead of exploring the question “What Is Love?” the project gives us a bold statement of the answer. In other words, it’s time to stop seeking and start embracing the answer to the question. According to Doug, the release counters the “forlorn, negative” messages of today’s love songs and brings a “positive and uplifting” voice to the project. That voice is expressed through solid and meaningful lyrics, and strong musicianship. Clearly a concept release, listen to the tracks in order, as they do tell a story.
The first track, Chamorrita, was first released as a single in August of 2013, and Doug did a nice job of explaining the history of the single both during our interview and in a special clip I featured leading up to the release. (Read AfterSix Productions to Release First Single From “What Love Is”).
The Groove of Jillian Reed is a funky, uptempo track with a bassline and synth keyboard work that are as much an homage to funk as they are a definition of Ms. Reed’s groove. Don’t Wanna See You Go quickly switches the mood as we are introduced to a young lady expressing her desire to give the relationship one more chance. As I have mentioned in other writings, nature sounds and string arrangements are a plus for me and this track starts out with rainfall, which exemplifies both a period of reflection and the clarity that often comes after the rain ends. Starting Over exudes a light, jazzy feel, and brings us that clarity. It is also with this track that we first hear “the couple” interacting with each other directly. The male and female vocals play against each other perfectly – as a couple on the same page.
The title track exhibits heavily R&B-influenced lyrics and musical arrangement. This strength of the arrangement, especially the strings and electric guitar work, proves that What Love Is is a bold answer, and not a question, as I discussed earlier.
Everyday I see/how much you mean to me/The feelings inside I cannot hide/they make me wanna say…/Marry Me… The second half of the bridge in Marry Me are the lyrics that make this track pivotal in the album’s “story.” Poetic lyrics ‘marry’ smooth vocals (provided by artist Jua) to create a beautiful track that rises way above many of the ‘wedding’ songs I have heard in the past. And can I say, there’s a funky bass lick at the start of the track that adds a nice pop! A beautiful string arrangement, followed by some sharp guitar work introduce you to Remember – a refreshing track that further affirms one’s love for another. If Marry Me is the engagement song, then Remember is clearly the song to play at the wedding!
On Chamoritta (Fresh’s Uptown Festival Edit) – we hear the actual ‘boy-meets-girl’ conversation, with a nice twist on the original arrangment. What Love Is (DBassist’s Jazzy Remix) rounds out the album with a jazzy saxophone lead that truly sets the mood – for you to listen to What Love Is all over again.