Album Review: Steven A. Clark’s Fornication Under Consent of the King

Steven A. Clark

Fornication Under Consent of the King

L&E Media Company/BloodyGround USA

Release Date: September 11, 2012

 

Track Listing

1.     F.U.C.K. Part 1

2.     Lonely Roller feat. J. Nics

3.     Just Ride

4.     F.U.C.K. Part 2

5.     Seashore

6.     Not Ready

7.     She’s In Love

8.     Don’t Have You

9.     The Haunting

10.  Superhero Re: Orchestrated

 

Frank Ocean, the Weeknd, and Steven A. Clark, represent a new movement in Black music as Black artists have been wildly experimenting and redefining with how genres such as R&B, hip hop and others sound, as well as look. With that there’s a sense that this period of experimentation has started to accurately reflect the variety of music and art that Blacks actually are listening to and are influenced by – and there’s a glimmer of hope that what these forward-thinking artists are doing will lead to a further withering away of lingering stereotypes, and towards artists following their muses, expressing themselves in the only way they know. Along with this sonic experimentation, there has been a greater sense of freedom. Artists are expressing themselves with an unflinching candidness – whether about sex, their desires, their own emotional state, in a way that their previous generations never would.

   Fornication Under Consent of the King (F.U.C.K. get it?) is the follow-up to Steven A. Clark’s critically praised debut, STRIPES and for those who are familiar with Clark’s debut, I think they’ll see (and hear) that Fornication seems to represent a period of artistic growth for the up-and-coming singer/songwriter from High Point, NC. Inspired by the breakup of a long-term relationship he was in, the lyrical content of the album reflects a man who has come to terms with and has accepted love in it’s totality – that is the lust and bliss of newly found love, the arguments and misunderstandings, the heartache of betrayal and of a relationship coming to a close, and even the eventual process of moving on. Deeply confession, the material captures the innermost thoughts and monologues within the heads of the truly heartbroken, and in some fashion it does so with an awkwardness that feels all too honest. Songs like “F.U.C.K. Part 1,” “Not Ready” “Seashore,” and “Don’t Have You” have lyrics that sound like the bitter, heart-wrenching conversations I’ve had with lovers and love interests. “Not Ready,” sounds as though it captures the inner thoughts of someone with a broken heart and a particularly wounded psyche. It captures the uncertainty of a future without that person, and the uncertainty of moving on in a way that feels familiar. “Lonely Roller,” and “Just Ride” describes the feelings of bliss and lust that always seem to come up within the honeymoon phase of any relationship – and the songs ooze with a raw, urgently sensual carnality.

   As an R&B album, the production values on Fornication offers a sound that’s shined to a slick polish – we’re talking about big, booming bass, sinuous synth lines, occasional piano and guitar, atmospheric hiss, feedback and an atmospheric feel that allows room for Clark’s crooning vocals to shine. It manages to carefully bridge that line between being club-ready and stereo/headphone friendly, between raw passionate emotion and fussy production – all while retaining the sort of organic feel of old R&B and soul albums. In some way, you have to listen to each and every song or you lose the emotional context (which is the entire point of the album). Sure in a certain sense, we’ve all heard the breakup album which details either how the narrator is devastated by the loss of their lover or how they’ve fucked up the best relationship they’ve ever had, and Clark’s latest effort does fall into that category. But where those albums work – and in turn, his album – is the fact that they manage to make the deeply personal and bring out the universal in it. It’s an impressive album and I think that Clark will wind up being a titan of R&B in the near future.