There have been a lot of smart slow jams coming out in the last two years, but if you haven’t heard the single “Easy” from crooner Sparkle, you’ve yet to indulge in some of the best melodicism the underground has to offer today. Sparkle issues a formidable lead vocal performance in this song that arguably puts some of her best hits to shame, and while the video for “Easy” is just as visually charming, it doesn’t take anything away from the real star element here – the music itself. She’s true to the medium, and she makes a point of reminding us of this in this fantastic release.
The words in this track roll off of Sparkle’s tongue effortlessly, demonstrating just how much she feels in her element when occupying the recording booth. There’s never even a glimpse of hesitancy when she’s taking up strong hooks and ascending harmonies that would push most singers well beyond their limit; with her experience in this industry, there’s not much she’s intimidated by anymore (not that there ever was). The emerging generation could learn something from the relaxed energy she’s got in “Easy,” and specifically how she uses it to make her lyrics even more tangible to the listener.
You can tell that we aren’t dealing with the type of artist to give us everything she’s got right out of the gate in this single, but instead, someone who likes to take their time bringing us to the climax of the content with a bit of mystique and even ambiance. Sparkle doesn’t go all-in with us until it’s really necessary, teasing us with her melodic depth just long enough to make the release behind the chorus even stronger than it already would have been. She’s an analytical arranger and performer, and it’s hard to ignore that here.
The music video for “Easy” has all of the same gentle sensibilities as the song itself, but goes a little further in using the insularities of its shots to illustrate personality over pop prowess. Sparkle has a lot more to her artistry than some of her peers advertise; she isn’t building an identity purely around a love of lust and excesses we could find anywhere in the mainstream R&B market. She’s got something deeper she needs to share here, and it’s made accessible to us through every element included in the master mix.
Vulnerable and unapologetically so, Sparkle’s “Easy” is a ballad steeped in intimacy that R&B fans everywhere need to go out of their way to check out this April. There’s a lot of debate about the credibility of the R&B underground right now as it stands in independence from an increasingly melodic hip-hop movement seemingly intent on melding more harmonies into its own framework, but in “Easy,” Sparkle makes it pretty tough for critics like myself to argue with her sound’s validity in the big picture. She’s old school in a bold way, and I’ll be interested to hear what she comes up with next.