Steven A. Clark - Fornication Under the Consent of the King
Record Label: L & E Media Co. / BloodyGround USA
Release Date: Sept. 11, 2012
Well, here it comes. The groundswell of fresh-faced R&B titans ready to reinvigorate the genre. First there was Frank Ocean, then The Weeknd, enter the next upstart: Steven A. Clark.
The Fayetteville, NC native (and current Miami resident) writes sensual R&B songs that veer towards indie and pop and should satiate fans with an appetite for either of the three disciplines. The self-produced Fornication Under the Consent of the King (F.U.C.K.) is the follow up to 2010's critically lauded Stripes and another promising step forward.
The disc opens with the title track, a smooth and evocative effort that waxes rhapsodic about temptation and does so in the most confident of ways. While it isn't the album's strongest song it is a fine introduction to the music of Clark. "Lonely Roller," which features backing vocals from singer Victoria Blue and guest vocals from Miami rapper J. Nics. On the whole "Lonely Roller" is a more accessible and commercial offering and one of the disc's first home run moments. There's a veer towards John Legend on "Lonely Roller," and that is a sound that Clark wears well and probably could have revisited far more often.
The album's best moments are the synth-inspired ones. Whether its the summery grace of "Just Ride," the bubbly brightness of "She's In Love," or the timeless "Seashore," the latter of which was produced by Mr. Familiar who has worked with Yelawolf, Timbaland and Solange, to name but a few.
On "F.U.C.K. Part 2," the synths enter the landscape from the opening note and dazzle their way to the finish in what is ostensibly an ode to fornication. Sonically though, "F.U.C.K, Part 2," is thicker with attitude and more layered. It is the first song on the disc in which Clark digs deeper and strives for something more visceral and enveloping. That he achieves it is only a further indication of his inherent musical gifts. Lead single "She's In Love,"
On the airy and celestial "Not Ready," the crooner allows his vocals to do all the work and man do they ever. The song is a veritable clinic in how to drive home a powerhouse R&B single. Lead single "Don't Have You," is the only chance at which Clark showcases his flow and to be fair one sort of wishes he would do it far more often. There's a sense of comfort at work here that few of the other tracks have. That is to say, Clark sounds like he's in the pocket and sounds most at home. There's so much potential on just this track alone that one can't help but think Clark is indeed destined for the limelight.
Fornication Under the Consent of the King's penultimate offering is "The Haunting," another synth-drenched cut with a buoyant chorus and a veer towards radio. The brassy "Superhero Re:Orchestrated," a song which features music composed and arranged by Sam Hyken is a vocally-driven juggernaut and a most appropriate way to close a truly auspicious effort.
Though he's still a few steps away from his magazine close-up, there's a reason to think that in due time, Clark might arguably be one of the premier names in R&B. The many musical peaks on Fornication Under the Consent of the King are veritable proof of that.