REVIEW: ‘An Evening with Silk Sonic’ is nostalgia gone right

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak just dropped potential album of the year


The cover art for Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s “An Evening with Silk Sonic.” Photo courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation and Aftermath Entertainment.

Nijzel Dotson and Keyshawn Davis

In early March Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars introduced the world to Silk Sonic when they released their debut single, “Leave the Door Open,” a song that would go on to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and set the table for an album that audiences didn’t even know they needed.

Collaboration albums and concept albums can be two of the most difficult things for major artists to deliver on effectively, but with “An Evening with Silk Sonic” Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars have managed to knock both out of the park on a single project. 

With 14 Grammys between them, it’s not at all surprising that .Paak and Mars form the perfect pairing on an album that’s essentially a half-hour love letter to 1970s soul. 

The album is hosted by legendary singer-songwriter and bass guitarist Bootsy Collins, which legitimizes what Silk Sonic was trying to accomplish by featuring a major artist from that particular era of music.

Managing editor Nijzel Dotson and diversity, equity and inclusion writer Keyshawn Davis discuss their first impressions on the album below: 

Top 3 songs?

Keyshawn: I would have to say my absolute top three favorite songs on the album have to be “After Last Night,” “Fly as Me” and “Put on a Smile.” “After Last Night” was my favorite of the three because of the feature with Thundercat and his 20 seconds of singing at the beginning and the commentary of Bootsy Collins. “Fly as Me” is my second favorite of the album because it’s classic Anderson .Paak. If you’re a fan of his second studio album Malibu, which showed Anderson .Paak’s versatility, you would understand the type of lyricism that .Paak possesses that makes him a legendary artist. “Put on a Smile” is classic Bruno Mars to me. It reminds me of songs like “When I Was Your Man” or “It Will Rain” where it really showed Bruno Mars’ vocal range. 

Nijzel: I 100% agree with you that “After Last Night” was the best song on the album. I don’t think that any song will top “Leave The Door Open” when it comes to streaming numbers and radio play, but “After Last Night” is the strongest example of the chemistry between Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak that makes this project as good as it is. Their two voices feel as though they become one, until eventually all the listener can do is repeat “After last night, I think I’m in love with you” in their head.

“Smokin Out the Window” and “Leave The Door Open” were two of the album’s three singles and were some of the strongest entries. Picking three songs off of a nine-track record with no misses is a tough spot to be in, so I’ll go with these, but I may feel differently tomorrow. Every song is that good.


Who shined brightest?

Keyshawn: To me, I would have to say Anderson .Paak carried the entire album. This is an Anderson .Paak featuring Bruno Mars album. Most of the songs like “777,” “Fly as Me” and “Smokin Out the Window” are all reminiscent of .Paak’s previous work.

Nijzel: The real answer is Thundercat and his guitar on “After Last Night,” but on an album centered around Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak I’ll keep the spotlight on them. I feel like if “An Evening with Silk Sonic” was a group project, both of them would receive an A grade. 

For most of the album the two are in perfect harmony, and for every Anderson .Paak standout track, there’s one where Mars is equally as impressive. The only way to really break the tie between the two is to point out that the project means so much more for Anderson .Paak, a unicorn of an artist that’s gotten his critical recognition but will now finally get a boost in mainstream appeal after this collaboration. 

Problems with the album?

Keyshawn: There are a few problems that I have with the album, number one being that the album was way too short. The album is half an hour and only has nine songs. I wish they had made it an even 10 songs. I hope in the future they drop “A Weekend with Silk Sonic.” 

The other problem I had with it was not enough Thundercat. I get that the album is primarily focused on the two artists, but I would’ve loved to hear more than the twenty seconds of Thundercat at the beginning of the song.

Nijzel: I think that a few more features would take this album from a 9 to a 10. The album is incredible, don’t get me wrong, and I understand that you’re supposed to be spending “An Evening with Silk Sonic” but would a few more guests at the party hurt? I say no. I would love to have seen other contemporary artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monae step into the time machine with Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak on this. 

The album does feel just a little bit lonely, but I think this problem is an exciting one because it gives Silk Sonic room to grow as a duo and improve upon an already amazing dynamic by sparring with other artists.

What did you like most about the album?

Keyshawn: Where do I begin? First, I like the fact that Bruno Mars finally released another album because the last one we got from him was in 2016. I like the album because I feel like it’s going to bring a bigger audience to Anderson .Paak. He’s already a mainstream artist, but I still feel like he’s slept on. 

Most people haven’t heard of some of his early projects like “Venice” or NxWorries. Lastly, I loved how well both artists meshed with each other. Both of their voices blended well with each other, and you can tell how much each individual was singing his soul out on the tracks.

Nijzel: The chemistry between .Paak and Mars is undeniable, and it’s my favorite thing about the project. I’m getting tired of mainstream releases continually clocking in at a minimum of 20 songs just to boost streaming numbers, but I definitely could have listened to Silk Sonic croon for an hour and a half. 


Is this the album of the year?

Keyshawn: Yes! I do think their album is a solid 9 out 10, but “An Evening with Silk Sonic” is everything that we didn’t know we needed. As Nijzel said it’s all hits, no misses, and I can’t think of any album that can top it. 

I’ll give “The Off-Season” by J. Cole and “The House Is Burning” by Isaiah Rashad honorable mentions, but nothing has come close to this masterpiece. It’s an album that I think has the potential to be timeless just because most of the music is inspired by a different era of music. I truly believe this is the album of the year. 

Nijzel: It’s definitely in the running. The attention to detail, vocal range and strong production are all there. The best thing it has going for it and one of the things I love the most about the project is that it doesn’t sound like anything out right now, at least when you’re talking about bigger artists. 

I think they stuck the landing on paying homage to artists from the ’70s in terms of both their sound and the aesthetic in their music videos. It will really set them apart from other competitors. My gut is telling me that this is the best album this year, but it also just came out a few days ago and I might be a prisoner of the moment.