Quentin Moore – Black Privilege (2017)
Quentin Moore – Black Privilege
The independent soul music world is very small as well as very big. You might find out that someone in your town is working on a project that is getting buzz or that an artist that you know collaborates regularly with name artists. And you realize that this is truly a small world. However, I regularly get assignments that underscore the sheer number of talented individuals who are out there plugging away releasing music. People who I have never heard of. Quentin Moore is one of those artists. The Austin native released several full-length albums and EP’s before dropping his latest, Black Privilege this year, so I decided to listen to some of Moore’s previous works to get a feel for his style.
Moore, a former college football player, infuses his music with Texas funk, blues, southern soul and gospel. He possesses a rangy vocal instrument that can highlight a muscular baritone that he uses on southern soul and funk numbers, but most effectively on the ballads that have proven to be Moore’s strength throughout his career. Moore can also deploy a buttery tenor that can float into the falsetto range in the tradition of Curtis Mayfield, and it comes through on ballads such as his remake of Al Green’s; “Simply Beautiful,” where listeners are treated to the Moore’s full vocal range. Moore goes into full Mayfield mode on the conscious numbers, which have also been a part of the guitarist’s repertoire.
“Party Drugs,” with Moore’s wah wah guitar and the electric organs comes across as a tune that might have fit in on the Superfly soundtrack. The drug that Moore is talking about here is power and money that the shadowy figure Moore embodies offers to an artist to create art that demeans rather than uplifts. However, the following track – “Peter Norman” – is the cut that might prompt discussion. Peter Norman was the was the third person on the medal podium with Tommie Smith and John Carlos after the 200 Meter race in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Norman supported the Smith and Carlos’ decision to initiate a protest during the playing of the National Anthem. This may seem to be the wrong time to pen a song that honors a historical white ally and makes the case that whites remain necessary in 2017. In the eyes of many in the black community, whites proved to be unreliable allies – a fact driven painfully home whenwhite women broke for Trump in 2017. However, Moore makes it clear in “Peter Norman” that those willing are willing to listen and are willing to stand with us and bear the personal cost of that stance should always be welcome.
Still, it’s those ballads that elevate Black Privilege. Moore is on the top of his game, whether he is teaming with Bradd Marquis on the blues grinder “I Need This Dance,” or trading romantic metaphors with Maya Azucena on “I Can Never Stop Loving You.” It would a shame if the latter track doesn’t at least draw a sniff from radio. He even manages make a phrase that implies rough sex sound sweet and tender on the acoustic guitar ballad “I’ma Beat It Up,” while “I Am Not My Money,” a ballad with gospel organ play and those tight vocal harmonies, is a church inspired number that finds Moore reminding listeners that hard work is a virtue even when success is not readily evident.
That final track is a testament to the way Moore has ordered his career. He hasremained true to his musical vision. And even if it hasn’t resulted in him becoming a household name, it has yielded a series of consistently solid works and a growing reputation in soul music circles. Recommended
By Howard Dukes