Though presented in a sleek, modern-day style, at its heart Just 4 You is a throwback to the era where a good-time groove carried the musical message — be that of love, of peace, or of something more carnal.
You hear, over the course of this grease-popping, hip-wagging EP, a number of the adjacent influences from Eric “EQ” Young’s time as a kid in the northern California bay area — from Tower of Power and Santana to Sly Stone and (of course) Con Funk Shun, with whom he eventually appeared as a slap-bass funkster sideman.
Take “Dance with Me,” a bright and slinky opener that rumbles out with this wow-inducing sense of Family Stone-ish propulsion. Young says all he wants is to dance with the target of his lip-smacking affections, but as this bumping, grinding, grooving number arrives at its conclusion, I’m not so sure there isn’t something else on his mind. The title track traces further back into the smooth R&B feel of turn-of-the-1970s soul, sounding something like Maze, even as it retains a layered rhythmic undertow.
“Let’s Ride,” riffy and fun, perhaps most directly recalls Con Funk Shun’s disco-era update of the James Brown sound, but without sounding quite so rooted in the polyester period. Meanwhile, Young is so in command of his lover-man lyric that he somehow making the words “high-heel shoes” sound salacious. In “Ooo Baby Yeah,” he combines the smooth R&B foundation of early Commodores with the barely contained sensuality of Prince. Singing over roomy, anticipatory cadence, Young stretches his vocal to the point of breathless, trembling ecstasy.
“Why You Funkin” ends things with a final flourish of soulful verve, as Young offers one of his most heartfelt performances — though its slightly marred by the use of a voice-altering auto-tune device. His honeyed, velvety vocals don’t need any special effects to connect.
That said, the beats are infectious, here and everywhere on Just 4 You. If you’re not dancing at some point during this funky joyride of an album, look down. Your feet must be nailed to the floor.