Written by Jourdan-Reiss Russell
The West Coast has had a renaissance in the last few years. Pioneers in a multitude of genres related to African-American culture: hip-hop; dance; electronic; R’n’B, and the shape of American music has changed as a result. Undoubtedly, the Internet and globalisation of sound has had a key influence too, but a lot of the legwork has been done on the pacific end of the States.
Sir Darryl Farris, also known as SiR, has been a quiet but dedicated proponent of the neo-soul tinged R’nB/Hip-Hop fusion that we see in contemporaries such as Anderson .Paak, Isaiah Rashad, The Internet, and Frank Ocean. From producing and songwriting for R’n’B and Soul heavyweights including Anita Baker, to lending his croon to some of this generations premier emcees in the same fashion as D’Angelo in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, his sound has become recognisable and his name has a level of clout that makes the release of his latest entry in an ongoing series of EPs, Her Too., an anticipated one, even if the rollout was quieter than expected.
One would guess that subtlety is the name of the game for SiR. His understated voice permeates the mix, adding an extra dimension to tracks he’s featured on, and he plays up to this on many of the 6 tracks on the project. On Don’t Call My Phone, his pitch-shifted vocals are far lower than the lead guitar and powerful drums, which initially sound muffled but after repeated listens the combination focuses the ear on the instrumental, which is far more lively and upbeat than the rest of the EP. As the cover suggests, the theme here is lights out, dusky and sensual; three of the songs here (Canvas, Ooh Nah Nah and SUGAR) are definitely going to be finding their way into some bedroom playlists this year, and the overall tone of the album is slow and pondering, every track a layered statement about love, lust and living in California. At no point does SiR jump out and take the spotlight with a powerful ballad or a vibrant falsetto, instead he wants every element of his songs to work harmoniously to realise the feeling of being in California as the day falls to night and the listener is enveloped in a warm, at times inviting but also gritty darkness.
The two tracks which bookend the album explain this feeling very well. New LA is deceptively bouncy and light, with Anderson .Paak and King Mez offering breezy but memorable verses; Mez in particular drops great quotables such as ‘like Bella Hadid, I had stop fuckin’ on the Weeknd’ while SiR provides a lovely opening verse with layered vocal harmonies flowing from his verse through the rest of the track effortlessly. On the other hand, W$ Boi drops all levity to become by far the grittiest song on the EP, with SiR reminding listeners that even if he makes beautiful R’n’B and Soul with a tender core, his Inglewood upbringing meant he’s not one-dimensional on a musical or personal level.
Credit: Top Dawg Entertainment
The middle four tracks are a mixed bag; ups and down in terms of sound and theme, which make the project an overall exciting listen but also make it clear which fits SiR best. Canvas and Ooh Nah Nah are textbook honey-dipped soul, fitting right in with music from Eric Benet or Musiq Soulchild, but the former falls short with tropey lyrical nods like referring to the female form as a work of art or how much of an idiot her ex is for letting her go, while the latter fares a bit better but doesn’t seem to get further than how great last night’s lovemaking was, making the songs feel too much like reverence without innovation. By contrast, Don’t Call My Phone has an exuberant instrumental with incisive bars that are equally braggadocious and earnest, where SiR riffs on the pratfalls of university education, the long come up, the standard issues of fame and the feeling of driving around the city with the top down, and SUGAR trades in the usual R’n’B/Soul playbook for the more modern Neo-Soul one; an irresistible sample underpinning a simple yet catchy beat while SiR very simply and honestly sings about how great it is to be in love.
The layered and complex soundscape of this brief musical encounter shows that SiR is undoubtedly quiet about his talent. Her Too., is another strong addition to a growing catalogue that continues to push him to the forefront of the conversation regarding the aforementioned renaissance. It’s humbly confident, multifaceted and exciting, just like the future for this genre and the artists pushing it forward.