Now I realize that these days eight years doesn’t seem to be a very long time to record a new album-what with litigation/money being such an overriding concern even more than it ever was-and it was always a huge concern. Omar Fook is a figure little known in the US. One important reason for that is there was no anti disco movement across the pond. So funk,soul and related dance music’s of all sorts continued to evolve on the underground dance circuit unencumbered during the new wave and alternative eras. Omar was on the ground floor at the beginning of the 90’s-right up there with American figures such as D’Angelo and Terence Trent D’Arby (whom I consider American for all intents and purposes). Still it been eight years since his previous album Sing (If You Want It). And Omar’s albums have a tendency to go out of print extremely quickly. So I thought I’d review this new album of his while it was new and attainable.
“Simplify” opens the album with a wonderfully harmonized vocal melody before going into a elaborate mix of cosmic synthesizer washes and Moog bass riffs. The title song has a slower,crawling groove punctuated by a low horn with some woodwinds and other orchestration lightly sprinkled in with,of course Omar as always singing behind,around-anything but with the beat in his strong,soulful and jazzy vocal style. “Come On Speak To Me” has a similar idea mixing a little samba into the rhythmic stew. On “I Can Listen” there’s a polished,orchestrated soul/pop with a prominent Motown flavor with heavy back round vocals (from Omar himself of course) on the bridge. On the potent blend of scratch and boogaloo “Bully”,with its conscious rejection of gun violence and “**** War,Make Love”,a wonderfully fluid example of dance/funk both call for world peace on the local and the broader level.
“Eeni Meeni Myno Mo” and “Ordinary Day” both have that strong Brazilian flavor to them-again both with strong melodies. The break heavy “Treat You” with Soul II Soul’s Caron Wheeler and “High Heels” both point to the main important attribute of this album: it’s by far the heaviest funk Omar has ever made. While the majority of his albums featured him experiment with different genres within his coherent production sound,this album experiments with the funk groove to see how much vitality and splendor the music can have when harmonically and melodically taken in different directions. The fact that Stewart Zander of Jamiroquai,a band who devoted themselves to the same funk based development process,is on this record speaks volumes about Omars mode of intent. I can only hope that Omar delivers his next album a little sooner than this one came because this in a way is the culmination of his entire (and somewhat unheard in some areas of the world) music journey, one which soul/funk musicians of any sort would be wise to pay a lot of attention to.
Originally Posted On June 28th,2013