Friday, September 5, 2014

Right here, right now: Mary J Blige and Disclosure team up

Earlier this year, Mary J Blige did a guest turn on the US version of Disclosure's F For You. Nothing out of the ordinary there - the star power undoubtedly helped get an unknown band onto America's notoriously risk-averse radio stations - but it turns out the collaboration was also the start of a genuine musical love affair.

Earlier this week, Blige announced The London Sessions, a new album of 10 songs recorded over a month in the UK capital with Disclosure, Sam Smith and their regular collaborator Jimmy Napes.

"Our idea was to become part of London," she told The Guardian. "To really embrace the culture — to really live in it. Not that I haven't been here before, but I've never had the chance to really soak it in the way I have this time.

"The music is free over here the way it used to be in the States," she added. "Artists are just free to do what they love... The music is living and breathing — you can hear that from Adele's last album. It was massive — a big deal. But she did what she loved."

The first fruits of the partnership popped onto YouTube about an hour ago, in the form of a track called Right Now. It's everything you might have hoped for, harking back to the early days of Blige's career, when she single-handedly invented hip-hop soul - that mix of hard, urban beats and textured, careworn harmonies that signposted the way for everyone from TLC to Beyonce.

Even more strikingly, it sees Disclosure step up their game in terms of production. The Bo Selecta bleeps that scattered their debut album have been sacrificed in favour of a subtle, spare groove that's 100% in service of the melody.

On this evidence, we're on the cusp of the first essential Mary J Blige album since 2001's No More Drama.

Mary J Blige - Right Now

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