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Oli Silk: So Many Ways

Oli Silk is clearly gunning for fans who gobble up the bright, catchy vibe of Paul Hardcastle and Brian Culbertson. Silk, like Hardcastle, is from the U.K. and favors a smooth, grooving sound that’s romantic for ballads and thick and percussive for upbeat tunes. It’s probably no surprise, then, that the 27-year-old keyboardist and composer is one of the latest signings of the U.K.-based Trippin N Rhythm label, home to Hardcastle. Silk caught the label’s attention while collaborating with saxophonist James Vargas and with his own band called Sugar and Silk.

“Easy Does It” typifies Silk’s groove, beginning with cascading keyboard and guitar trills and settling into a melodic, acoustic piano groove a la Culbertson. A cool bass solo by Julian Crampton cements its status as one of the songs of the year. Equally tempting is “Eve’s Song,” a slow-burning, sexy number with a deep synth-bass hook. Silk throws in two soulful vocal tunes that are anything but throwaways-the cover song introduces the soulful and sexy chops of Yvonne John-Lewis, while a version of the O’Jays’ “Summer Fling” showcases the vocal range of Bruce Parker. Silk rounds out this fine CD with uptempo tunes like “Deuces Wild,” which offers another Trippin signee, saxophonist Jaared, and “San Carlos Approach.” But don’t leave before hearing the final song, the satisfyingly trippy and jazzy “Rushmoor Café,” where rapid keyboard runs lead into some fancy bursts of synth playing. Oli Silk sounds like he’s here to stay.

Originally Published