Thursday, March 20, 2014
"Are You That Somebody" (Acoustic Cover)- BANKS
"Are You That Somebody?", Aaliyah's 1998 effort for the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack remains the greatest R&B track to arise from that decade. There's really no other way to parse it. Every element of a classic is in the song. Timbaland's stuttering production which had yet to take on the full-icon status it would later enjoy. Static Major's evasive, but crucially important backing vocals that slip in and out with the beat. And then at the center of the perfect storm is Aaliyah. While the song is rife with crisp drum strikes, her voice never swells to that loud, knocking level. She's content to dwell in the shadows and whisper her affection, rather than belt it from a rooftop. In the past few years, her lesson of less is more has become the motto of an entire crop of indie R&B singers.
One of those singers is the American-born/British-raised BANKS. On last year's stellar "Waiting Game" she carefully crooned "I'm thinking it over, the way you make me feel sexy but it's causing me pain," entirely cognizant of the kind of damage such an admission would deal. Such pained self-awareness is essential for a track like "Are You That Somebody?” one major reason why the artist's cover of the tune for BBC Radio 1 works so well. Ditching drum machines for a hiccupping guitar, she embodies the role of the "goody goody" who has a "naughty naughty" personae lurking underneath. Like Aaliyah in the original she delivers the omission in a hushed whisper, not wanting just anyone to know everything about her. "See I'm trusting you, with my heart, my soul," she croons in a moment of great candor. When you're risking so much, you can understand such carefulness.