DR King drops new EP
With a single explosive wail, DR King opens the melodic floodgates that introduce his new EP It’s My Life in its first track and lead single “Gravedigger,” and within seconds we’re beside him in the front seat of a rip-roar thrill ride that will take us through six of the most stunning and sharply appointed R&B songs to be released so far in 2019. Funky guitars clash with brooding basslines as King serenades us with socially-conscious lyrics that allude to the Black Lives Matter movement, but the narrative is only half political by design. His soulful crooning is seasoned with a heart-wrenching angst that beckons us forward, eventually leading us into the mischievous grooves of “Anyway” and the lusty lyrics adorning them.
“Anyway” and its strong physicality set the stage perfectly for the slow piano balladry of “Crying Alone,” which for all intents, constructions and purposes sees King shadowing the iconic sway of Smokey Robinson. Like Smokey, he bonds his lyrics to the swaggering grooves in the central melody, allowing for his voice to dominate the mix with its soothing timbre. The words themselves are poignant and painfully relatable, but they don’t overstate their message against the beautiful instrumentation skulking about in the background. As this song comes to an end and the bubbly swing in “Your Body” comes into fruition, our emotions are in the palm of King’s hand, but fortunately for us, he’s not about to let anything outside the realm of positivity stifle the magnetic atmosphere he’s conjuring up for us musically.
“Your Body” is cerebral and a bit spacier than the other tracks on the record, but it doesn’t drift so far from the stylized cohesive flow of the songs as to depart from the classic R&B tonality of the EP. On its own, the chorus is probably the most dance-inspiring hook to be found on It’s My Life, but as a complete piece, it’s by far the most multilayered composition that King has brought into the studio with him to date. It’s followed by the churning ballad “Love is a Drug,” which I had the pleasure of reviewing last year ahead of its release and still find myself listening to on rainy afternoons many months after catching my first glimpse of its surreal verses and unassuming harmonies.
It’s My Life meets its conclusion with the hard funk of “Do You Love Me,” which serves as a tribute to the psychedelia-infused soul of the late 70’s while perpetuating an obtuse eccentricity that I really hope to hear more of in the next release bearing King’s name. All in all, I had a feeling that I was going to love what I heard in this EP, but I could have never guessed just how focused and spot-on it would be around every one of its countless twists and turns. The rhythms are righteous, the vocals as stately as they’ve ever been – if not more so – and the lyrics anything but contrived. It’s My Life is the record that all of us who saw DR King rock The Voice knew he had in him, and it’s even more entrancing than any of us could have anticipated.
Photo credit Melissa Scheetz