Kenny Wesley

Kenny Wesley

Listen to Kenny Wesley

Kenny Wesley probably isn't a name you're familiar with, unless you're a die-hard “So You Think You Can Dance” fan. However, with his debut album The Real Thing, Wesley has immediately established himself as a serious -and seriously fun- artist who's looking to bring funk back.

Welsey influences are undeniable – half the tracks on this album sound like great 70s funk, in the vein of Parliament or the Jacksons, with a heaping helping of current-day synthesizers on top.  Wesley shines on these tracks, such as Real Thing and Taffy, with some down-and-dirty fuzz guitar riffs and hot drumming that make head-bobbing a virtual necessity.

Wesley doesn't contain himself to just the 70s, however.  Classic 80s synth sounds make their way into tracks as well, including the so-old-it's-new-again classic Orchestra Hit sample.  

Vocally, he runs the gamut of 70s-90s funk and soul, with layered harmonies that bring to mind the 90s R&B scene.  At times, the album practically sounds like a collaboration between George C. Clinton and Boyz II Men – and it succeeds admirably.  Wesley has a brilliant voice, equally suited for crooning on ballads or croaking out the funk, without a hint of autotuning even when he gets a bit 'diva'.

Throughout, the production by Stereo Lif is absolutely impeccable.  He's got a full array of synthesizers and a full crew of background singers doing call-and-response in classic 70s style.  For a private album, as yet unsigned by a major distributor, it's amazingly well-crafted and polished throughout.  

Wesley and Stereo Lif also know composition, with some really nice mixtures of synth and voice harmonies, like in the 30-second lead in to Missin U.  When they're really rolling, The team creates a blend of R&B both old and new that manages to sound classic and fresh at once.   

This is a top-flight album, one that desperately deserves to find a distributor and a wider audience.  I usually like to include some criticisms around this point, but in truth, I just cannot find much fault with this album.  Unless you simply cannot abide any soul on your iPod, Kenny Wesley has a sound that's infectious for virtually anyone.  

Wesley has some major talent, and I can't wait to hear what he comes up with next.  This album hints at bigger things in the future, and I can only hope he has the chance to build on what he's created here.

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