Taking his name from the Mandarin term for “ice cream” (He picked up the language after spending a year abroad there), Quinn Luke has been making music for several years, both as a solo artist and as a member of The Phenomenal Handclap Band. He is also a frequent collaborator with Tommy Guerrero. The former San Francisco-based artist is now a New York resident, and has tapped into its soul scene, hooking up with musicians from The Dap Kings, Antibalas, and others.
If you’ve seen him perform live, you know that Bing Ji Ling looks like an artist from the late ‘70s, and his music fits right alongside his personal style. The first comparison that came to mind when I heard the opening notes of “Move On” was Sons of Champlin. There are a few points where the album gets a little psychedelic, with fuzzy distorted guitars coming to the forefront, but the majority of the album recalls the blue-eyed soul of the mid to late ‘70s, with plenty of falsetto and multi-part vocal harmonies. I feel the key to any album in this vain is the rhythm section, and rest assured that drummer Patrick Wood and bassist Luke O’Malley from The Phenomenal Handclap Band have great chemistry and push the album along without overpowering any songs. Bing Ji Ling provides keyboards, guitar, bass, and percussion along with his vocals, and does an excellent job on all.
While much of this album has a throwback feel to it, there are songs that sound more contemporary. For example, “Sunshine Love” would be home right next to some Thicke (I know its been a few years since he’s been relevant, but this is all relative). Lyrically, Ling never strays too far from tried-and-true topics like love and loss, but it never becomes too cliché, and there’s so many good things happening with the performances and arrangements on the album that it’s not an issue. Maybe I’m a sucker for this music because I was raised on a heavy dose of Bay Area soul, but when it’s done well, few things sound better. This album is a perfect segue into the summer.
|Title:||Bing Ji Ling - Shado To Shine|