When Sam Barsh, Gene Coye, and Gabe Noel come together to make music, it is bound to yield some interesting results. Collectively, the trio is known as The Years and their main aim is to take the listener on a musical trip through time. The trio isn’t alone here, as they have a slew of both vocal and instrumental guests to help along the journey.
Following a brief retro-styled introduction by Beck Bennett, the music kicks off with “Lose My Number” which features Jesse Palter. She has a style of singing that immediately conjures up thoughts and comparisons to Amy Winehouse, but Jesse doesn’t seem to belt out her lyrics with the same passion as Winehouse. The acoustic bass of Gabe Noel really makes the song here. On “In THE Crowd”, Gene Coye’s drumming laid on top of Sam Barsh’s keyboarding create the perfect mellow atmosphere for a quiet evening at home. Vocalist Sy Bar-Sheset makes an appearance on “Let’s Stay In Love”, a throwback to the days when Al Green reigned supreme. It also features Amir Yaghmal on violin. One of the album’s vocal treats comes from Honey Larochelle on “You Are The Reason”. It is co-produced by Curtis Watts and features a more modern sound from the trio. “Theme From “Best Buds”‘ reverts back to the more mellow offerings of The Years and prominently features SamBarsh’s keyboard skills once again, rivaling those of Bob James. “When Peace And Love Come Together (It Makes You)” easily wins the crown for the longest song title. It’s a futuristic, but still funky piece that the B-Boys could easily pop lock to. The lone MC appearance on the album comes in the form of frequent MF DOOM and J.Rawlz collaborator John Robinson as he raps:
“The kid is wildin’ out
Forgot what love’s about
And now he’s lost to this forced image of self
It’s like depression with diminishing health
And chain smokin’
Drinkin’, thinkin’, where is his future really goin’
Knowing the right path could be crucial like who is who
He wants his life more fruitful and suitable
Was so full of potential with pencils
He painted pictures with his words profound and influential”
The music gets back to the more savory and smooth side of things with “Toasting”, a song that sounds every bit like it could have been created by The Roots. I was waiting for Black Thought to pop up and spit a verse, but the song ends a bit too quickly for that dream to come to fruition. The album closes out with “We Were Ready” which is actually three short songs rolled into one. To a certain extent, it seems as if The Years are showing off just a bit in terms of how much range they have. It gets dark, it gets synthesized some, then it even gets a little orchestral before the music fades away for good.
While many people may be against musical experimentation, The Years prove that it can be done successfully. While the vocalists are capable in their own right, it is the music itself that makes this album a pleasure to listen to. Opting to keep it short and sweet, “The Years” clocks in just under thirty-five minutes, leaving this listener yearning for a little more. If the main objective was to see if this experimentation would work, then I’d say it was quite the success. As for the next journey, I’m hoping it’s a longer trip and they bring a little more hip-hop along for the ride.