Res: How I Do (2002)


Like peanut butter for chocolate.

Purchase this album: Amazon

THE SCENE: Gnarls Barkley’s success in America gives me hope that one can be an eccentric African-American yet still receive radio play and big album sales like eccentric White rock acts. At least if you’re male. Female Black rock acts with hit singles are rarer finds, like low-carb donuts and Democratic Supreme Court nominees. Newcomer Res (rhymes with peace) threw her ring into the modern rock hat with her debut album, 2002’s haunted How I Do.

Res’ eccentric voice exists out of time; she syncopates to the beat like modern R&B singers but her calm, harmonious tones harken back to 1930s jazz, with the intensity of new wave.

Her music is equally free of boundaries, easily shifting from the gentle hip-hop blues of “I’ve Known the Garden” to the porch banjo pluck of “Tsunami”, which sets up the hidden alt-rock scuzz of “Say It Again”. Unexpected elements peep through like The Cure sample in “Let Love” and the phone-number-as-melody of “The Hustler”.

Res the lyricist is wary of fools, liars and the psychically blind. In the icy march of “They Say Vision” she volunteers to step into The Matrix to avoid these people (I wanna try that pill that people take/Make you believe all the things that people say), although she bluntly calls out a rising star as a massive fake in “Golden Boys”:

But then there’re girls like me who sit appauled by what we’ve seen
We know the truth about you
Now you’re the prince of all the magazines
That is a dangerous thing

But would they love you if they knew all the things that we know
Those Golden Boys
All a fraud don’t believe their show
Would they love you if they knew all the things that we know

Golden Boy life ain’t a video

Unlike many albums on this site, How I Do was blessed with decent promotion from a major label, so what happened?

THE FALLOUT: The single “They Say Vision” scraped into the Top 40 but radio never really embraced Res, and How I Do stiffed as a result. Res is releasing her second album at the end of 2006 but she is current touring as a backup singer for, ironically, Gnarls Barkley.

How I Do is available from Amazon and you can sample tracks here:

The list of Black female singers heard on alternative rock radio is mighty short. Sade, Dionne Farris, Tracy Chapman, Joan Armatrading, 4 Non-Blondes – none of which are on current playlists. Res’ How I Do is a valiant effort to demolish many, many artistic walls and create a new genre from the rubble, an effort that radio would have you think does not exist.

See you next Wednesday.

NEXT WEEK: More stuff you haven’t heard that’ll knock yer socks off. If you are, in fact, wearing socks. Oh, and memo to Ryan: I am working on a Uppity Music T-shirt. Does anybody else think that’s a cool idea? Let me know. Gracias.

7 thoughts on “Res: How I Do (2002)”

  1. Res pwns. Doesn’t she have a reasonably successful career as the new Vinia Mojica, however? I thought she was well-loved in Okayplayer circles, and had eaten off that recognition for some time.

  2. i’m inclined to attribute the incredibleness of how i do to producer doc (of esthero’s breath from another) and lyricist santi white, which is not to take anything away from res but i’m curious as to what she could do without those two underrated giants working behind the scenes

  3. Well, Res actually played my URB ALT Festival here in NYC three weeks ago and she was amazing. She performed new and old songs with an orchestra. AND she has to be one of the absolute coolest artists in the business to work with.

    Now the shameless plug.

    URB ALT Festival Day 2 goes down Saturday night at Harlem’s famed Faison Firehouse Theater in celebration of the London based priests of dreampop/shoegaze music, AR Kane. This June 23d show will feature the soulfully barbed experimental rock of TV On The Radio’s,
    Kyp Malone; the alternative jazz/folkcore of UK Nigerian singer/guitarist, Otto Fischer; the atmospheric indie artrock of Nerdkween; the edgy songcraft of singer/guitarist Shena Verrett; and the multi-cultural big band performance art of the MuthaWit Orchestra..

    June 23, 2007, 7pm-midnight
    Faison Firehouse Theater – AR Kane Tribute
    6 Hancock Place @124th Street, NYC
    Take the A, B, C, D trains to 125th Street(walk a block and you’re there!)
    $10 All Ages

    Yo, Uppity Music. What do you think of AR Kane’s album 69?


  4. speaking of black female singers getting alternative airplay, one you left out was santogold aka santigold, aka santi white aka samantha white who as a previous poster mentioned was the lyricist on this record, also had a producer and executive producer credit on it. at the time she was doing A&R for MCA. nowadays she is signed to downtown records, which is also the label of, you guessed it gnarls barkley

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