Tasha Komery, Calgary Folk Fest Flickr This year, perhaps more than any other…
- Posted on May 11th 2011 12:00PM by Gregory Adams
Dare to Care Records
"Magic is all about timing and misdirection," Dolgin tells Spinner. "Those are basically the two main things. That's what music's all about, too. It's about when you play a note, but it's also about when you don't play a note."
Oddly enough, despite having released two full-lengths in the past, Socalled's third long player, 'Sleepover,' found the artist learning his biggest trick yet: how to write a song. While he hasn't abandoned the sampled soundscapes of early records like 2007's 'Ghettoblaster,' which plied '70s soul samples onto traditional Jewish folk snippets from the '30s, his latest set features a ton of home-grown hooks.
"I started off just making beats, sampling stuff together," he explains. "This whole making a song thing is different. I've always loved songs -- the pop hooks and choruses -- but I've never really had to do it myself. This is my first album as a songwriter."
That being said, the self-described novice has already mastered crafting a catchy tune. The gleeful, accordion and boom bap number 'Work With What You Got,' for instance, is bound to rattle around your consciousness, if not for its infectiously hummable melody, then because of its life-affirming, lemons-to-lemonade message. Between longtime collaborator Katie Moore's emphatic coo, calypso king the Mighty Sparrow's jovial toasting and hip-hop legend Roxanne Shante's rhymes on making the best of life, the song practically dares you not to smile.
Much of 'Sleepover' follows a similarly sunny slant. The soulful 'Kid Again' has Socalled endorsing his inner child, while the album's title track is a juiced up, pajama jam wherein booty bass originator DJ Assault salaciously spits about a panty-peeling party.
But while the bulk of 'Sleepover' comes off as a huge celebration, Dolgin admits that he's used the art of misdirection in regards to its lyrics. Romantic R&B jam 'Beautiful,' complete with a sexy, slow burning horn section, may have you tempted to light some candles and call your lover over for the night, but a glance at the lyric sheet reveals a heart of darkness.
"The vibe of the record is positive and joyous, but it's also pretty dark," Socalled says. "If you listen to a lot of the lyrics, they're kind of cynical. The song 'Beautiful' sounds like a by-the-book love, cheesy little love song, but it's basically about feeling ugly and loving somebody for their looks. Wanting them just because they're beautiful, you know?"
While Socalled's lyrical overtones may trick listeners, perhaps the most magical moment of his new record is how he managed to cram so many collaborators onto the set. Over 30 guests stop by on 'Sleepover,' from James Brown's former trombonist Fred Wesley, to 95-year-old lounge pianist Irving Fields to Quebecois rapper Sans Pression. Whether he was tracking his pals at home, on the road or getting their contributions sent over to him, Dolgin relished the opportunity to work with so many different kinds of performers.
"I'm all about bringing people together," the rapper notes. "It feels really good and important when older people, younger people, yellow, brown, black or even blue people hang out. It brings out the great, cool weirdness of everybody."
"Heal the world, man," he says with one last laugh. "One stupid pop song at a time."