Earl St. Clair Shines on Debut EP, ‘My Name Is Earl’
Former Hip-Hop Producer turned soul artist Earl St. Clair showcases incredible potential on his debut EP, ‘My Name Is Earl.’
According to his bio, Earl St. Clair wasn’t supposed to be a solo artist, but rather a hip-hop producer. How plans change. It turns out St. Clair has mad vocal chops and a knack for bringing classic soul sensibilities to modern times. On debut EP My Name Is Earl, he showcases mad potential and incredible musicianship. Throughout the course of the EP, Earl is deeply invested into the music. You can hear the spirit in his voice.
“Pain” initiates My Name Is Earl energetically, drenched in retro soul styling. Clearly inspired by James Brown classic “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” St. Clair delivers a dramatic, gritty performance. He wants the listener to feel the same pain he’s feeling. Even if “Pain” is drawn out at five minutes in duration, He successfully conveys it musically.
“Three Story Home” retains the dark, minor key scheme of the opener. The production work is sensational, particularly the malicious brass. Once more, St. Clair could care less if he sounds smooth – it’s all about hard-hitting, bluesy soul. This record, like “Pain” doesn’t sound like 2017, and that’s part of the charm. Another selling point is the theme – loneliness.
“This house ain’t no home / Whenever she gone / These nights can get long / In my three story home / I see I was wrong / I guess I’m not that strong / Now I’m all alone / In my three story home.”
The funky “Criminal” gives My Name Is Earl more tempo and groove. If James Brown fueled “Pain,” Parliament fuels “Criminal.” From the jump, St. Clair feels as if he’s in his zone, never conceding autopilot status. He’s not playing around in the least. He wants it.
“I want what I want / And I need it right now / If you don’t give it up / I’mma take it with a smile / I don’t wanna be a criminal.”
Follow-up “Bad Love” keeps the tempo moving, not to mention the funk. The key word is groove. Musical cues and sounds that make the late 70s and 80s awesome are all covered here. It’s a musical blessing.
The brassy “Feeling Alive” exudes exuberance. An interesting record, it is uniquely constructed. The verses opt for the minor key that dominates My Name Is Earl. Like most of the effort, Earl showcases a mad swagger on the rhythmic verses. The chorus is what’s most surprising. He incorporates funk, country, and jazz! While “Feeling Alive” may not be the crowning achievement of the EP, he definitely deserves acknowledgment for his ambition.
Penultimate joint “Ain’t Got It Like That” brings along the only collaborator on the EP – PJ. Ultimately, the results are respectable, giving St. Clair another enjoyable record. As soulfully appealing as it is, the heavy closer, “Beautiful War,” concludes the EP in epic, savvy fashion. All of the things that make the effort captivating – the gritty vocals, dramatic approach, and minor keys – make “Beautiful War” beautiful.
All in all, Earl St. Clair showcases great potential throughout the course of My Name Is Earl. No, this isn’t how R&B sounds in 2017, but perhaps that’s why this effort shines. Nothing he tackles is brand new, but it doesn’t need to be. St. Clair is fresh – in the most retro-soul way possible!
Gems: “Pain,” “Three Story Home,” “Criminal” & “Beautiful War”
Earl St. Clair • My Name Is Earl • Def Jam • Release: 3.2.17
Photo Credit: Def Jam