R&B and the musical art of the slow jam may have been overtaken by hip-hop and rap in the modern scene, but The Detroit Emeralds’ newest single “There is No Distance” brings the listener instantly back to the 1990’s with a sound that could be easily mistaken for track recorded by 1990’s era groups like Boyz II Men or All-4-One.
Fans of the band who recall them grooving onto the international music scene in the 1970’s with songs like “Feel the Need in Me” and “You Want It, You Got It” will instantly notice that this latest track, and the other three recently released singles (“Victory”, “Face 2 Face”, and “In My Life”) are a definite departure from the heavily funk infused style of the original line-up. The whispery name drops intro slides into a shimmering smooth track that showcases the vocal talents of the new members in a way that befits a band named for a gemstone. Romantic, and soulful, the Emeralds’ breathe a gentle life into Peter Sinfield’s (King Crimson) sweetheart lyrics.
The instrumentation is simple – percussion, keys, and some synth/electronic sounds, and very much a call back to the 90s in mood, style, and feel. There is no auto-tune here, just pure vocals with long notes that float rather than belt the sentiment of a man reassuring his love that there is no distance too great for their love – but with lyrics that are genuine, memorable, and have a maturity that gives a broader appeal audience-wise.
Bands making comebacks is hardly new, but a band making a comeback after decades in the shadows of music is unique. The cover art of the single does maintain a 70s aesthetic in design, a reminder of their origins perhaps, but the sound is updated and renewed. This is an artistic choice and direction that works well for the group and adds to rather than detracts from the legacy of the past that they wish to expand. Enduring long term in any genre of music requires evolution to meet the ever-changing tastes of the public in order to appeal to both the original fans who made the group popular, and to draw in new fans to keep and grow the popularity. “There is No Distance” showcases the group’s understanding of this, and with the new album set to drop this fall, it will be intriguing to watch where the Emeralds continuation will take them and their fans.
Final Grade: A-