|Album Review: Black Pumas—Black Pumas|
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Black Pumas, the collaboration between Grammy-winning guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada and 27-year-old Eric Burton, have been hailed as a breakout band after their performances at SXSW earlier this year. Their debut self-titled album is a genre-blending joy ride.
Burton's intoxicating voice is introduced on opening track "Black Moon Rising," which quite literally starts Black Pumas off with a bang. "Black Moon Rising" sets up the vintage tone for the album, and kicks it off with an infectious energy, which admittedly has its peaks and valleys throughout the album. That said, Black Pumas feels celebratory. On stand out track "Know You Better," the Pumas make use of a xylophone as well as Burton's falsetto. Burton and Quesada mix soul, blues and funk, blurring the lines of genre almost to a point of contrast, like in "Touch The Sky," which borrows conventions from blues and rock guitar instrumentation and pairs the sound with a full horn section.
In a short documentary made about Burton entitled "Street Music," The Austin-born musician says: "People are attracted to what's shiny and what's already packaged, and well-kept and together. So I think the task at hand for the musician, such as myself, is to make people respect you; standing up for yourself and having value in yourself. If you can structure and cultivate an undeniable product, then it doesn't matter where you're playing. Someone is going to be attracted to that." It's certainly accurate that people have definitive reason to be attracted to Black Pumas. The album is inherently hopeful, full of all that self-value and self-respect. "Sweet Conversation" is perhaps an odd choice for the end of an album, but it works due to the endearing lyrics and melody. It's no easy feat to finish an album and leave the listener feeling satisfied, but Quesada and Burton seem to pull it off with ease and class.