It’s been a bit quiet on the new music front for Bluey Robinson lately, but the South London singer is back with his new mixtape The Late Shift and it was worth the wait. This is a neat collection of songs that showcase Robinson’s rich-textured voice on well produced Pop-R&B tracks.
The whole mixtape has a very listenable quality. The first track Good Times is a mid-tempo track with a summery vibe, about just kicking back and enjoying life. The rap by fellow Londoner, Bento adds a nice texture to the laid back groove of this song. There’s nothing too forced over complicated on The Late Shift. Even the relationship dilemma song, Be Cool manages to emulate the title with its easy melody and catchy hook.
That said there are many different genres of music woven into The Late Shift. The Low features a dub-step beat. It’s a song that combines elements of old and new in a number of ways. The old comes in the subject matter (forbidden love) a traditional song theme. Also Robinson’s smooth but emotive vocal is reminiscent of seasoned R&B crooners Trey Songz and J Holiday. This is in stark contrast to the new, quintessentially British, dub- step influenced production. Some UK R&B singers borrow so heavily from their US counterparts that the results often appear like clumsy parody. But Robinson seems to have the balance just about right. The Late Shift is old school R&B for a new generation and with a modern twist of British, urban cool. The Low exemplifies this.
There is a classical music interlude which adds an unexpected texture to The Late Shift. It is cleverly featured after the fresh energy and modern vibe of The Low. You get this complete surprise of soaring strings and subtle piano that leads perfectly into the next song the True Blue. This is a great touch and the way in which Robinson has carefully intertwined different genres shows he is not taking his listeners for granted.
So, every R&B album worth its salt needs a ballad and Fly is the ballad of The Late Shift. It’s a poignant song about loss and grief. The track features a beautiful piano led melody and stirring vocal harmonies. Fly harks back to 90’s R&B ballads with its emotive melody and lyrics reminiscent of Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight and Babyface. The track consciously indulges in that tradition and signals the start of The Late Shift’s wind down.
There is a modern stigma of male R&B singers as purveyors of some of the finest cheesy music around and some singers have struggled to break free from that image often appearing aggressively slick and over stylised. But Bluey Robinson seems to possess effortless cool and natural edge. It’s unusual and refreshing to hear a collection of songs like this in today’s post-David Guetta-era of R&B.
The Late Shift is a welcome return to everything that was good about the Pop-R&B sound of the 1990’s and early 2000’s: solid vocals, solid melodies and solid production. The late Shift is a well structured, polished body of work with a clear beginning, middle and end. It doesn’t try too hard to do too much: the elements of soul, hip-hop and dub-step subtly blend together to create an honest, credible dose of Pop flavoured R&B.
Reviewed by Bibi Cofie
Check out Bluey’s mixtape for yourself and let us know your thoughts!!
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