Young Gun Silver Fox – AM Waves (2018)

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The 1990s saw a mostly UK based nostalgia of American 70s RnB and jazz-funk, demonstrated by the rise of acid jazz acts like Jamiroquai, The James Taylor Quartet, Brand New Heavies and Incognito. As the 90’s turned into the Aughts, another figure in that general space emerged, the insanely talented producer and instrumentalist Shawn Lee. He’s not a household name, but with his work for video, movie and TV soundtracks like Desperate Housewives and Malcolm in the Middle, he’s certainly been widely heard. Furthermore, Lee has mastered as many music styles as he’s mastered musical instruments, which is to say, a whole lot of them.

Lately, one of Lee’s main projects has been a collaboration with Andy Platts (Mama’s Gun), a composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist too, and a gifted singer to boot. As the two-man act Young Gun Silver Fox, Lee and Platts seeks to serve a slightly different kind of nostalgia, for late 70s Southern California pop.

The smooth, rich, analog-washed sounds of Young Gun Silver Fox began with 2016’s West End Coast, an album particularly well received in the Netherlands. Two years after that album, which reflected an inviting Fleetwood Mac/Philly Soul vibe, Young Gun Silver Fox returns with AM Waves. Fender Rhodes, clavinets, tight bass lines, and smooth harmonies…all the hallmarks (the good ones, anyway) from that era are present.

Apart from the horns, Lee and Platts handle virtually all the instruments and craft some catchy tunes. There isn’t a single track lacking hooks, and Platts is a rather solid lyricist: On the opener “Midnight in Richmond” he spins off stanzas like passages in a best selling novel (“Cross the bridge where the river threads silently like footsteps in the dark/where my mind comes alive with a new memory igniting up another spark”) or the kind of lines that are very much of the time being celebrated (“I wanna be so high, so free/Where I can feel my mojo rising”). “Take It Or Leave It” (video above) is a virtual rewrite of “What A Fool Believes” and “Mojo Rising” lifts its groove from “How Long,” that 1974 hit from the Paul Carrack-fronted band from England, Ace.

A good depiction of RnB inflected rock from the Jimmy Carter years isn’t complete without a horn section on at least a few numbers and Young Gun Silver Fox take care of that by bringing in a platoon of brass and reeds dubbed the “Seaweed Horns,” making “Love Guarantee” a lost Earth, Wind & Fire gem and give the funky “Underdog” a hard, uplifting kick in the pants.

Another 70s nostalgia act Lenny Kravitz figures into a couple of songs: Platts imagines him as a bartender serving him liquid salve for his pain on the Hall & Oates-like “Lenny” and again as the namesake for a festive bar sung about on the four-on-the-floor dance tune “Kingston Boogie.”

Anyone who liked the MOR music coming from the radio forty years ago will find everything to like about Young Gun Silver Fox’s AM Waves, from Fat Beats. Yacht rock has a new soundtrack, and it’s a good one.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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