Album Review: Dave + Sam – No Shade

Pushing and prodding at the edges of House Music, Dave + Sam, aka vocalist Dave Giles II and producer Sam O.B., have always been thought of as mavericks. They’ve played on that, extended that reputation even with their new album No Shade, out on the Classic Music Company this coming Friday (27th March) digitally, having been released in its physical form a couple of weeks ago.

Pulling in element of Chicago house, techno stylings, funk jams and electro beats, the Brooklyn pair have clear roles. Daves spoken word – sometimes rhythmic, almost rapped (as in Til The World Blow Up), sometimes not – tells tales, sometimes political – in ‘Facts’ for example, Dave exposes the inequality of life both from a socio-economic and a racial point of view, and sometimes just plain old tales of love and loss – the title track being a prime example.

Around that, Sam wraps his beats – sometimes like ‘Sauce’ it’s bubbling jazzy house, sometimes – as album opener Grind shows, it has a harder, more stripped back, bleaker edge. Sometimes, as is the case with the brilliantly dark You Da Shit Girl, it’s dark, edgy, retro Chicago House. But whatever he does, it’s pretty much always attention grabbing.

They’ve pulled in a handful of guests to help with the record including Chicago legend Mike Dunn, powerhouse vocalist Ramona Renea and fellow Brooklyn natives Cor.Ece and LATASHÁ, and while they add to the record, particular the soulful Renea, the two boys are always at the forefront. Tracks like Home, with its stuttering, blend of beats and changes of directions, along with the insightful lyrics, show a real ambition to stretch and manipulate the realms they’re working within.

It’s an album that pulls you along with it, that you can delve into multiple times and bring more out of. More than that though, its an album of banging tunes and razor sharp observations. Get on board when you can.

Mavericks of the musical landscape, Brooklyn’s finest genre-defying duo Dave + Sam release their anticipated debut album ‘No Shade’on Classic Music Company this spring, a thirteen-track narration of the 21stcentury experience, told through the eyes of vocalist Dave Giles IIand production maestro Sam O.B. With the aim to package love, empowerment and socio-political commentary into a collection of tracks that never compromise on groove or soul, this enchanting album never loses sight of its message as it journeys from deep Chicago house and otherworldly melodies to funk-laden jams and adventurous studio experimentation.

Hinged tightly by the soulful nuances of Moodymann, Mos Def and Gil Scott Heron, Dave’s captivating spoken word delivery is purposeful and considered, as Sam weaves rhythms and grooves so deep you can get lost in them – the two musical narratives working in perfect harmony. Impassioned cuts like ‘Facts’, ‘Worth It’ and ‘Sauce’ leverage hip-hop’s tradition of battle rap against white supremacist rhetoric, a message that remains ever more relevant in today’s political climate. Title track ‘No Shade’, ‘Day One (Oh Baby)’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough’ allow stories of love and loss to unfold to the listener, while the stripped-back grooves of ‘Round The Way’ and ‘You Da Shit Girl’ add another dimension to the album. Featuring a number of collaborators such as Chicago legend Mike Dunn, powerhouse vocalist Ramona Renea and fellow Brooklyn natives Cor.Ece and LATASHÁ, ‘No Shade’ is an evocative, powerful and joyful experience when played in its entirety.  Recorded in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant, a neighbourhood bearing the scars of over-policing and encroaching gentrification, the vibrancy of the community and its unyielding history of creative expression shines through on the album’s entirety. As products of such environments, Dave + Sam’s music is resilient, revolutionary and organic in equal parts. An homage to their mutual reverence for early Chicago house and the golden era of underground parties in New York, ‘No Shade’ is a riveting body of work ready for you to lose yourself in. 

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