Sam Cooke, lookin' too smooth
Terius Youngdell Nash, who works under the pseudonym The-Dream, has written pop smashes for Britney Spears "Me Against the Music
," Rihanna "Umbrella
," Beyoncé "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)
" and Justin Bieber "Baby
." This makes him either one of the greatest modern songwriters or pieces of deplorable rubbish, depending upon your pop preferences, or lack thereof.
Nash has just released an eight-track album of classic Sam Cooke tunes, and rather than rework the soul rock 'n' roll songs in a modern pop format, he has stayed relatively true to not only the compositions and arrangements of the Soul Stirrer
's tunes, but the vocals and production as well. In short, it's some dope ass shit, even for a diehard Sam Cooke fan like myself.
Citing his mother as a primary influence on his classic tastes, and a huge Sam Cooke fan in her own right, it becomes clear to see why Nash would want to stay true to the original vision of Cooke and his session musicians, using backing tracks that sound almost identical to the original tunes ("A Change is Gonna Come," and "Bring it on Home," in particular). The release comes one day before the 23rd anniversary of his mother's death.
All in all, as someone who worships Cooke and his ability to pull the soul from a song, and tears from the eyes of the listener, much of The-Dream's power
is his almost-emulation of Cooke's inflections, dips and dives. On "Twistin' the Night Away
" you could swear that it's Cooke that comes in on the vocal intro, same with "You Send Me
." This is not a revolutionary broadening of the Cooke catalog, but I always recoil when contemporary artists try to over-sing
classic tracks in an effort to prove that they can really feel
it. Sam Cooke was perfect at stressing the power and dynamic of the often simple vocals and melodies with his smooth croon, deep and wide as the river by which he was born.