Shadow to Shine, the newest record by funk/soul/pop musician Bing Ji Ling, is an extremely enjoyable and impressive work. Full of lush music, catchy melodies, inspiring singing, and a fun vibe, it’s consistently varied and entertaining; in fact, it’s an album you could almost never get tired of.
Bing Ji Ling is the nom de plume of NYC-based singer/songwriter, Quinn Luke. With several other solo pieces under his belt, he is also a member of the Phenomenal Handclap Band, Incarnations, and Q&A, to name a few. Featuring members of the Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Antibalas, and PHB, one can imagine that the recording of Shadow to Shine was as much a party as it was a serious endeavor; either way, they produced some truly great tracks.
The Northern Soul template is immediately introduced with “Move On.” With funky percussion, flutes, horns, harmonies, staccato guitar playing, and Ji Ling’s cool, soulful voice, it faithfully and expertly captures every nuance of the original 1970s music. As an opening track, it successfully hooks the listener and puts him or her into a pleasant place immediately; it’s tempting to sing along and smile, and that holds true for the whole record.
“Hold Tight” is easily one of the albums more addictive tracks. With fuzzy guitar riffs, enticing bass lines, some powerful singing, and an explosive guitar solo at the end, it’s a heavy and hypnotic classic. Elsewhere, “Like We Used To Do” is a great funk love song, “Dreamin’” is a lighter, more poppy affair, and, with its simple, poignant approach, “Where Am I Gonna Go” is definitely the best songwriting on Shadow to Shine. The album concludes with a reprise of “Move On,” called “Untitled,” and it brings a nice sense of conceptual continuity to the album. Essentially, every track on here offers something interesting and commendable, and the “Interlude/Welcome” segment (where Ji Ling, similar to the old antics of Todd Rundgren, breaks the fourth wall) is a nice touch.
What’s more remarkable about Shadow to Shine is how authentic it feels; rather than merely impersonate vintage styles as second-rate emulation, Ji Ling and his band feel 100% genuine. The album bursts with inspiration and colorful sounds, and just about every track would fit in a Spike Lee or Quentin Tarantino film (which is to say that if you know the type of music they use, you can anticipate with Bing Ji Ling sounds like). Shadow to Shine is an album that transcends age or genre preferences; just about everyone can find something to dig with Bing Ji Ling.
Check out “Move On” here!