Photo: Courtesy of Kenyon Dixon
Press Play At Home: Kenyon Dixon Channels '70s R&B With A Smooth, Stripped-Down Performance Of "Hard Way"
GRAMMY-nominated singer Kenyon Dixon goes retro for his performance of "Hard Way," a song that embraces the stylings of classic R&B.
It's no secret that Kenyon Dixon loves soulful music. His version of "Bring it On Home to Me" — a Sam Cooke tribute, and a collaboration with PJ Morton, BJ The Chicago Kid and Charlie Bereal — even earned him a GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance this year.
In this episode of Press Play at Home, Dixon's penchant for old-school music is once again on full display — this time, in his own original song, "Hard Way," a track from his early 2021 LP, Expectations. An emotional, tender song featuring plenty of sultry vocal runs, the track encapsulates all the melodic earnestness of classic R&B, and Dixon keeps the throwback vibes going with the visual aesthetics of his performance.
Backed only by a guitar line, the singer performs in front of a circular doorway painted with brown-and-yellow rainbow stripes. The '70s vibe is very much alive, as the room around him also features shag carpet, a velvety armchair and a small, vintage-looking television set.
Both in his music and in conversation, Dixon is a proud advocate for the return of R&B's traditional roots. In a 2022 interview with Rated R&B, he expounded on his passion for promoting his favorite kind of music.
"Anytime I'm talking about the world needing more R&B, it's my attempt at trying to amplify classic R&B and kill the conversation that nobody's doing it," he explained.
Elsewhere in that interview, Dixon points to the release of his Expectations album as a cornerstone for his decision to keep flying the flag for the genre. "The response to Expectations let me know that people were still yearning for classic R&B. I wanted to be as intimate as possible in the R&B space, even getting closer to my fans and understanding what they love about [my music]."
In the two years since Expectations dropped, he has done exactly that: Dixon's latest project, Closer, "[breaks] down the core elements of R&B," he said, adding, "I even asked myself what I love about R&B."
Press play on the video above to watch Dixon keep the fire of classic R&B burning, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play at Home.
Press Play At Home: Watch Dodie Perform A Morning-After Version Of "Four Tequilas Down"
In the latest episode of Press Play At Home, singer/songwriter dodie conjures a bleary last call in a hushed performance of "Four Tequilas Down"
"Four Tequilas Down" is as much a song as it is a memory—a half-remembered one. "Did you make your eyes blur?/So that in the dark, I'd look like her?" dodie, the song's writer and performer, asks. To almost anyone who's engaged in a buzzed rebound, that detail alone should elicit a wince of recognition.
Such is dodie's beyond-her-years mastery of her craft: Over a simple, spare chord progression, she can use an economy of words to twist the knife. "So just hold me like you mean it," dodie sings at the song's end. "We'll pretend because we need it."
In the latest episode of Press Play At Home, watch dodie stretch her songwriting muscles while conjuring a chemically altered Saturday night—and the Sunday morning full of regrets, too.
Check out dodie's hushed-yet-intense performance of "Four Tequilas Down" above and click here to enjoy more episodes of Press Play At Home.
Photo: Courtesy of Marcus King
Press Play At Home: Marcus King Delivers Blazing, Bluesy "Pain" In A Parking Garage Jam Session
Marcus King pays tribute to his favorite classic rock trios in this soulful performance, which features a '70s flair, a whiplash-inducing guitar solo and a pair of classic cars as a backdrop.
Rising rock singer Marcus King may only be in his 20s, but when it comes to his taste in music, he's an old soul. He learned his first musical lessons from his blues-rocker dad, and he cites his earliest memory as the time he opened up his dad's guitar case as a child and strummed the strings of an Epiphone El Dorado.
Now, as a singer/songwriter and guitarist himself, King expertly blends his classic rock and blues inspirations into his original music — most recently on his upcoming album, Young Blood, due Aug. 26. The project was produced by Dan Auerbach, who King also teamed with to write "Pain," a bluesy and fast-paced rock track that puts the singer's classic influences front and center.
In this episode of Press Play At Home, King and his three-piece band head to a parking garage for a grungy, searing performance of the track. From classic cars in the background to the outfits and visual aesthetics, vintage vibes are abundant — but it's the music itself that truly embodies the spirit of '70s rock.
"Pain" is just one example of the "classic power trio" sound that King strived for with Young Blood. He drew inspiration from musical idols like ZZ Top, Grand Funk Railroad and Black Sabbath, as well as his favorite films GoodFellas and Raging Bull. "We tried to make the music feel big," King explains in a press release, "like you’re seeing it in a theater."
Though the music takes plenty of cues from legendary acts from the past, King's blend of soul, rock, blues and country is uniquely his own. The GRAMMY nominee’s unmistakable raspy tenor crests over the instrumental lines and puts the singer/songwriter's signature stamp on the performance.
Press play on the video above to watch King's blistering performance of "Pain," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Press Play At Home.
Press Play At Home: Francisca Valenzuela Performs Her Courageous Feminist Paean "La Fortaleza"
The outspoken Chilean singer/songwriter Francisca Valenzuela sings of womanhood and will to power
For Francisca Valenzuela, feminism isn't a radical notion, but a self-evident truth. The daughter of two renowned Chilean scientists, she's published muscular, experiential poetry (like her 2000 book, Defenseless Waters, which she published in her early teens) and founded Ruidosa, a festival, platform and community that elevates female voices.
In this episode of Press Play At Home, Valenzuela sings "La Fortaleza," which contains her worldview in microcosm. "Everything that has happened has led me to today," she sings in Spanish. "I look ahead to the horizon and I bury the guilt and leave/I pack a suitcase, take a deep breath and don't look back/Setting sun, rising sun will accompany me."
Check out Francisca Valenzuela's riveting performance of "La Fortaleza" above, and watch other episodes of Press Play At Home.
Photo: Courtesy of Luke Sital-Singh
Press Play At Home: Luke Sital-Singh Strips Back "Call Me When You Land" For A Haunting, Cathartic Performance
Folk singer/songwriter Luke Sital-Singh delivers a chilling, in-studio rendition of "Call Me When You Land," his fan-favorite 2020 collaboration with Old Sea Brigade.
Emotional catharsis has been a favorite piece of Luke Sital-Singh's musical toolkit since the start of his career. Ever since his 2014 full-length studio debut, The Fire Inside, the London-born balladeer has gained a name for himself as a chilling performer, bolstered by his high vocal range and intimate lyrics.
Nowhere are those skills more exemplified than in "Call Me When You Land," a meditation on love and loneliness from Sital-Singh's 2020 EP All the Ways You Sing in the Dark, a collaborative effort with Old Sea Brigade. In this episode of Press Play at Home, Sital-Singh offers a stripped-down, solo performance of the fan-favorite track, putting a spotlight on his vocals and the song's longing message.
Sital-Singh sits in the studio for his performance of the ballad, surrounded by his gear and strumming his electric guitar. From the warm, subtle vibrato of the song's early verses to the effortless falsetto of the chorus, "Call Me When You Land" emanates the loneliness of missing someone — and counting down the minutes until you can hear their voice again, even if it's only on the other end of a phone line.
While his performance of the song feels deeply introspective and self-contained, Sital-Singh has actually unlocked potent new musical directions by working with other artists. In "Call Me When You Land" and the rest of his All the Ways You Sing in the Dark EP, Sital-Singh found collaboration to be a deeply gratifying, productive format.
So much so, in fact, that he's continued to work with musical partners on subsequent projects. Sital-Singh's latest album, 2022's Dressing Like a Stranger, finds him working with a new collaborator, Dan Croll.
Old Sea Brigade's Ben Cramer remains in the picture, too: The pair teamed up for album track "Can't Get High," and they're on tour together this fall.
Press play on the video above to watch Sital-Singh's intimate performance of "Call Me When You Land," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Press Play at Home.