One of the records that got lost in the pre-Xmas shuffle was this debut EP by 24-year old Chicago-based Silas Short. His brilliant lo-fi indie album “Drawing” came out on the equally fancy Stones Throw label (Kiefer, Peyton, John Carroll Kirby, etc) and features seven invigoratingly subdued, sometimes tender neo-soul pieces, all pretty unique and innovative. If at all, you might compare his overall approach and sound to some sort of mix between Jordan Rakei and Erykah Badu.
The singer/songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist grew up in Milwaukee as a mixed-race kid and turned to music through his older brother. The EP starts off with the rather dreamy “Cloudy June” with his distorted vocals and some funky guitar licks. It turns into a pretty hypnotic affair with a meditative ending. His vocals turn sympathetically otherworldly on “TwO”, a jazzy Maxwell-inspired tune. Interesting ideas and raw production values remind me of the recently released debut by UK promising act Sam Wills. On “ROOMS”, Silas keeps the balance between floating and polished, with great backing vocals and warm piano touches.
The most R&B-ish tune on offer is the downtempo cool of the title track. His falsetto is augmented by a heavenly backgound vocal arrangement which really keep the song from becoming too stale. As do the horns towards the end. “Joint Identity” is one of those modern-day Blue Note melanges where jazz meets alternative or indie soul/r&b. “Queen Of Paisley” is another sweetly meandering groove with more of those dreamlike qualities. And there are some short Robert Glasper-like piano touches on the finale, a somewhat unfinished mood track called “BOGUS” which turns this EP, which is out on vinyl, into a very promising debut.