Be Free – Paul Balancio (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

You could make an argument for the R&B and soul music of today being very different from that of the past. But you could also make that argument of all genres, music, after all, needs to move with the times to keep appealing to the audience of the moment. The art, I guess, for any artist, is to make music that is both familiar enough that it appeals to existing fans yet also fresh enough that it brings something new to the table. And if you want to know what such music might sound like, then give Be Free a spin.

Here, Paul Balancio embraces the concept of being the best of both worlds. On the one hand, he employs all manner of R&B classic traits – a groovesome beat, lyrics that are instantly infectious and the sort of funky rhythm that looks you in the eye and challenges you not to start dancing.

On the other, it is also packed with electronic beats and cool, cascading pianos and has the deliberate spaciousness and room to breathe of a modern dance track. On top of that, it is soulful and uses its dynamic to punch out a hypnotic groove rather than try to wander the hills and troughs of meandering creativity. Be Free gets the job done so effectively because it has a plan and it sticks to it. It is built from sass and soul in equal measure, it is infectious and accessible like all pop music should be, though to merely call this pop is perhaps doing it a disservice.

In short, it ticks the boxes for everyone. If you like your music to echo the upbeat soul and funk energy classics of the past then this does the job. If you are looking for something which beats a path into new soulful pastures, then it does that too. Like I said, the best of both worlds.

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