The Delfonics are the prototypical falsetto sweet soul harmony group. And despite the delicate romance of staples like "La La Means I Love You" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," what tends to be largely ignored or forgotten is that the musical bedrock of the Philly trio's classic records were often hard as hell - a fact not lost on few notable hip-hop folks over the years. Sampled by DJ Premier, covered by Biggie, interpolated by Lauryn Hill for Nas and paid homage/employed as guest vocalists/lyrically referenced by Ghostface, the group's best material combined a haunting, orchestrated elegance with a pre-M.F.S.B. Earl Young's drums mixed so consistently loud and crispy you'd think Mecca & the Soul Brother-era Jamey Staub flew back in time and engineered the sessions or something.
Now, the Delfonics are back recording - having done an album due out early next year via Wax Poetics Records under the watch of Adrian Younge - the man responsible for the Black Dynamite extravaganza and Venice Dawn. The first single, "Stop and Look (And You Have Found Love)," finds lead singer William Hart's unmistakable vocals a hair more technically, rather than merely emotionally, fragile. The instrumental grandiosity of the trio's classics - as a matter of practicality, no doubt - has been dialed back to a raw rhythm combo. But Younge's bell accents and muted horns suggest those familiar Philly Groove era qualities, and the essence of what made the Delfonics so unique - that balance of intensity and frailty - is intact. Apparently, the entire LP was co-written by Younge and Hart - a mentor-student tandem with the potential to quell predictable "retro-soul" conventions in all sorts of interesting ways. "Stop and Look" drops next week as a red vinyl 7-inch single (see above).
CLICK THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE TO HEAR THE TRACK AND VIEW IMAGES
Available from Wax Poetics Records.