Telling Stories Through Music

Right now I am totally hooked on the latest release from Plan B called The Defamation of Strickland Banks.  Overall, I really enjoy the music, for a variety of reasons.  I like the fact that it has some old soul mixed into it, with a definite Motown feel to it.  This isn’t something new, especially with a lot of white British artists (like Amy Winehouse or Duffy for example) and at first, I was a little hesitant to get into the CD for precisely that reason.  Hold on now, it isn’t that I don’t like people of certain colours playing certain kinds of music; I certainly hope we are beyond that point by now, but I just think that whenever a white artist comes out with something like this, it tends to get a lot more attention than when a black artist does it.  Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to be of less quality than the CD a black artist would put out (and I think Plan B shows that here), but I just think that there are some inequalities in promoting albums when there is any sort of “crossover” effect going on. 

I also like the fact that Plan B is using a ton of falsetto on this release.  I’m not sure what it is about falsetto, but I love it.  Truth is, there are points on this album where Plan B has some rough spots with it, but overall you get used to his delivery and actually find yourself going along with it.  When you throw in the fact that he drops some rhymes every once in a while, it just all tends to come together nicely.  It’s really a good listen and I have had it on repeat for a while now.

The thing I love most about the release is that it is a themed record, a soundtrack to a film he also wrote and directed.  It tells a story and there’s nothing better than a well crafted story delivered by a talented artist.  Doesn’t matter if it is a reading, a song or even a painting…if there is a good story behind it, I am captivated.  The problem with a lot of releases by artists is that there is no connection between the tracks.  You will have them singing about love on one track and then talking about something else that is completely random on the next track.  It compeltely defeats the purpose of selecting which order your tracks will appear on your release.  When you have a story that is crafted like this, then you go from song to song, following along with the plot.  There’s nothing groundbreaking here as far as the plot (it’s just about a guy who gets pinned for a crime he didn’t commit), but it totally works because of how the story is delivered.  There is definitely soul behind each song and a realistic bite on a lot of the tracks.  For instance, on one track called The Recluse, Plan B is singing about how whilst in jail, he earns the nickname the Recluse because won’t leave his cell (he’s too afraid).  It’s honest and that’s part of its caché.

Thinking back, I think the effect of telling a story is why I love when artists “break it down” in the middle of a track.  It used to be done a lot in the 60s, with soul artists stopping a track to preach a bit and now every once in a while we see it done again.  Alicia Keys did a great job with it in “You Don’t Know My Name” where she talks about the guy who comes into the resto every day and orders the same thing…and how she makes his drink with a little extra care each time.  That’s great stuff.  That’s how you connect with your audience and I wish it was done a little bit more in music.

Anyway, if you get a chance, check out some of the tracks from this CD.  Top notch.  Pick it up on import and you’ll be happy you did.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment