Free and legal MP3 from the Heavy (great-sounding neo-R&B, British style)

“Set Me Free” – the Heavy
     Forceful, graceful neo-R&B from a British five-piece, as simple and classic-sounding as the background scratches imply–this is, indeed, the kind of song that listeners of a certain age might remember as being accompanied by the sound of a needle dragging its spiral path through well-worn vinyl.
     With this straight-ahead tale of love gone awry, front man Kelvin Swaby conjures any number of storied lead singers that have preceded him in similar musical landscapes, from Marvin Gaye to Mick Jagger to Prince, and does a nice job holding his own. This is one of those magical songs that succeeds for inscrutable reasons–there’s no obvious hook to point to, no bells and whistles (cowbell, yes, however); the melody is at best serviceable, the beat is familiar, likewise the subject matter. And yet, from the subtly tempestuous stomp of the introduction, “Set Me Free” soars, unrelentingly. Maybe it has something to do with the underlying restraint at work here: Swaby keeps his cool, his evocative falsetto staying more whispery than shrill; the guitars guiding the beat are acoustic, not electric; even the background singers linger largely around the edges, sometimes sounding as if they’re singing in the next room. This one will sound great in just about any imaginable playlist.
     “Set Me Free” is the title track from a digital EP the band released last month on Counter/+1 Records. MP3 via Spin.

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