premiere: rob milton’s “good” soul betrays a wide world

February 1, 2019
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Even though AFROPUNK has been cheerleading Rob Milton’s brand of “not quite futurist, not exactly throwback, exquisitely NOW” soul music for a few years, we were still floored by “Good Side” when Rob sent us some new tracks a few weeks ago. On some level the whole thing couldn’t be easier: a beat, an organ and a tambourine pull the music forward, while Milton moves between a speak-sing verses and lushly delivered choruses to talk about accentuating his lover’s positives (“don’t wanna see you any other way”). It’s the simplest and most satisfactory kind of win.

Yet repeated listens betray how Milton’s ease in balancing soul classicism and currency is actually in the attention to detail, and in his immense gift as a singer. His direct invocation of “Issa” is a lyrical give-away that he’s living in today’s world, and his lean on his object of affection’s “good side,” while simultaneously “letting” their inadequacies “slide,” reveals a protagonist with a full emotional range not a blinded puppy-love cliche. This is even more clear in how Milton improvises with his voice — different phrasing of the same line, moving through a wide world of registers — to convey completely separate feelings. There may not be many elements to “Good Side,” but where the listener and the singer began the song are most assuredly not where they are when it ends.

“Good Side” is part of a new EP Rob Milton, out now.