Closing out Readers’ Week, Sam picked a sexy, throwback slow jam.
Will Rivitz: You know that attitude which stipulates that the sweet spot for nostalgia is between the ’50s and the ’70s, that assumes that any pop music that comes out of the sounds of those times is automatically worth praising? You know, the kind of attitude that allows for atrocities like “Marvin Gaye” to grace the airwaves? “Close to You” is kind of like that, except it’s, well, good? It evokes the same slinky-noir mid-century images of evening gowns and the NYC skyline, but instead of sounding tacky or dated it nails the timelessness it’s going after. It’s not quite clear why this is the one that does it, but its anachronisms might help: a beat fusing classic R&B with electronic suaveness, a vocal breathiness straight out of the late ’90s, a T-Pain bridge ripped straight from the mid-’00s. It’s vintage, but it achieves that effect with modern techniques, so that it’s actually exciting and new. Of course, it helps that the King of Auto-Tune delivers the most physically forceful verse he’s put out in quite some time.
Ryo Miyauchi: From her playing the jack of all trades to her strong sense of melody that complements the silky beat, “Close to You” is a fine introduction to Dreezy for the uninitiated. But it’s also an incomplete one. I keep thinking back to Crystal Leww’s blurb on “Body”: “Dreezy’s singing voice is fine, but what made her stand out was always her ability to outrap the boys.” And in No Hard Feelings, she outsings them too. “Close to You” may be her moment in her album to finally wind down from her dudes’ wrongdoings. Isolated, it’s politely pleasant and Dreezy got more to show than that.
Iain Mew: “Trying to get close to you,” they sing, and after a carefully moody five minutes on both sides, achieving it still feels like something just out of reach. Its pleasures are slow and sparing, but it gives a feeling of making the imperfect good enough for now.
Jonathan Bogart: Lovely, pillowy, smoldering… and dull. Dreezy’s best when she’s snapping some schmuck’s head off, and T-Pain’s best when he can inject just a little sleaze into his buttery robo-romanticism. “Close to You” is so throwback classy T-Pain’s role could be played by Peabo Bryson. Nice enough for nostalgists, but it amounts to a refusal to look 2016 in the eye.
Ramzi Awn: Bedroom jams never sounded like this. The pan of synths pulse with bated breath on “Close to You,” an invitation waiting to be opened. Dreezy rides the rhythm with no loss for ideas, and when it kicks in, the title hook is nothing short of perfection.
Alfred Soto: Using Auto Tune as a performance enhancing drug, T-Pain has performed on a number of stellar tracks over the years, most recently writing and producing a stellar opener for K Michelle. Often, though, the Auto Tune is more like Astroglide. Dreezy’s tact forces him into a response, though, resulting in a rare modern R&B duet with frisson.
Thomas Inskeep: Normally known for spitting fire (she’s one of the current queens of Chicago hip-hop), Dreezy changes it up and goes all sultry on this woozy R&B slow jam with assistance from T-Pain. This has got a 3 a.m.-at-the-house-party vibe, sexy as fuck without even trying.