There’s been a resurgence of 90s R&B groups of late, with reunions from Jodeci and SWV among others. Now Silk, one of the greatest R&B vocal groups to emerge from the Nineties, is launching a new album—their first in a decade—but with a difference: they didn’t have to re-unite because they never broke up and have been performing all along, Now fans will be thrilled as Silk launches their long-awaited new album QUIET STORM on March 18, 2016, on Silk/Entertainment/Shanachie Entertainment. QUIET STORM boasts the five original members who broke through in 1992 with “Freak Me” and sound better than ever. Silk always had the lush vocal harmonies of Boyz II Men but also the raw sexuality of Jodeci and both qualities are in full effect on QUIET STORM. Led by the infectious single, “Love 4 U 2 Like Me,” QUIET STORM just may be their best work since their debut.
So what took them so long to follow up their last album, 2006’s ALWAYS & FOREVER?
“Life happens,” notes Gary “Big G” Glenn. “We wanted to be precise about our direction. We measured ourselves one way when we were younger. Now we want to see ourselves as musicians first and lovers second….and we wanted to be more mature in our approach to our creativity.” He adds, “Part of the challenge is the obvious numbers; it’s hard to manage one person, let alone five, marching in the same direction. Even from a financial standpoint it’s a challenge. You have to be walking in the same direction with one common goal.”
Indeed “Love 4 U 2 Like Me,” the first single from QUIET STORM, is a more subtle, tender sort of song compared to the early hits. “I think it was the right re-introduction for us,” Glenn says. “A large part of what kept us from completing an album was not knowing the proper next step in our musical direction. This song is the perfect introduction; it feels like a classic song, it is true to what we value: thinking of ways to impress your woman, asking for little and giving a lot in return.”
But while the single and songs such as the title track and the anthemic “It Only Takes One” are unabashedly romantic, Silk still delivers very direct celebrations of sex on such tracks as “Slow Grind,” “Baby Suit,” and “Baby Maker,” which will satisfy long time fans who appreciated the in-your-face side of Silk. They may not be hot-to-trot kids anymore but their brand of grown-man sexy is as effective as ever.
“We look forward to those songs,” Glenn says.” It’s life! When you are kids you go about it one way and when you are grown it’s another way. But we love it in any case! These days they fit us like a glove. I would like to think that we have a variety of fans that respect the variety of what we do.”
On full display on QUIET STORM is the kind of seamless, gorgeous harmony vocals that can only be produced by vocalists who have sung together for a long time. Silk takes pride in their vocal arrangements; their five-voice blend sets them apart as does the fact that any one of them can step out and take a lead vocal.
“We go out of our way to emphasize the end-game of the vocal—like the Golden State (Warriors) or San Antonio, that emphasize a team approach. Sometimes we do something with a couple guys that could go out just like that but we wait until all the voices can be put in ‘cause that’s what makes it special. The background vocals surround the lead vocal. We have one guy that sings bass and another sings high; acknowledging that creates certain vocal cues and brings different things to different songs—but we always have the team concept.”
That “team concept” has served Silk well during their 25 plus year history. The young men who formed Silk grew up in Atlanta. Three of them met each other in the late Eighties in the course of working at a particular McDonalds. Soon Gary “Big G” Glenn, Gary ‘Lil G’ Jenkins, Johnathen “John John” Rasboro, Timothy “Timzo” Cameron and Jimmy Gates Jr. (Tim and Jimmy are cousins) got together around their mutual love of singing. They sang whenever and wherever they could (“I don’t think there’s a church in Atlanta we DIDN’T sing at,” laughs Gary): at talent shows, clubs, churches and in the streets. Louise Ferguson was determined to get them a shot with Keith Sweat who didn’t particularly want to audition the unknown wanna-be’s. So when Keith came to a bbq at Louise’s house, she invited Silk to come over and they discreetly went down in the basement and started singing for the kids there. Keith heard them and liked what he heard enough to make Silk the first signing to his Keia label in 1992 and they were featured on “two tracks on his Keep It Coming album. Silk’s first single, “Happy Days,” was garnering radio play but then “Freak Me,” another cut from their first album, starting generating radio play spontaneously and when released, the single became a #1 R&B hit and #1 pop hit. It was quickly followed by two Top Ten R&B hits–“Lose Control” and “Girl U For Me, which grew into a string of hits throughout the Nineties including “Hooked On You,” “I Can Go Deep,” “If You (Lovin’ Me)” and “Meeting In My Bedroom.” Their signature sound was dubbed “baby-making music.” “At the time we came up,” Gary Glenn notes, “producers were putting groups together but when Keith met us we were already Silk. That may be part of the reason why we have been able to stand the test of time. We didn’t just get together to get a deal; we got together to sing. We had to find our own niche. You had Boyz II Men with their harmonies and Jodeci with their “from the gut” sound, so we were kind of in the middle. We went from high school stages to arenas very quickly–that was due to Keith.”
“We want to make sure people understand that we are not abandoning our formula as far as “love-making” music goes,” affirms Glenn. “We are just acknowledging that foreplay is necessary but its not always spoken about these days. There’s something more to it! And there’s more to us than what people may have initially heard!”
Silk’s 2006 album, ALWAYS & FOREVER, featured their interpretations of other artists’ hits. QUIET STORM, affirms that Silk is here to stay and sounding better then ever!