Har Mar Superstar – “Bye Bye 17”
Cult Records
-out now
4 / 5

Don’t be put off by the unappetizing white dude on the cover: Sean Tillman, aka the Superstar, aka guy who looks like he lives in his mother’s basement, has an uncanny sense of retro-funk-soul in his soul. He’d fit somewhere between Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones on the retro-soul label Daptone – due to alphabetical sorting – and would do it with style, playfulness, sheer joy. Bye Bye 17, which clocks in just under 30 minutes, is quick but oh-so-good, is funky, down-to-earth, is indeed a white male Sharon Jones, does indeed channel Motown and groove with the best of them.

What’s our favorite tune, you ask? It must be “Prisoner,” a pure funk-blast of almost disco-stomping beats that strips us of the misconception that white men can’t soul with the best of them. “Prisoner” is Tillman at his finest, but to say that is all he has to offer is disingenuous: the opener, “Lady You Shot Me,” must be the single best powerhouse soundtrack for our imaginary movie about Lee Morgan, and add to that the infectious pop-infused, effortless “Restless Leg.” There is much to recommend this album, not the least of which is the sheer variety of sound Har Mar’s displayed here, in addition to the fun, sub-Sharon Jones (yet still quite powerful) vocals. These songs twist around a bit more, too, often whipping us around 180 degrees at the chorus – check out “We Don’t Sleep” for what we’re talking about. It’s great, it’s blissful fun, it’s well-performed and doesn’t take itself overly serious. It’s what music is all about, except that it’s a bit short… sigh…

We highly recommend you pick up this album. It’s a great one for the speakers or the car, and we trust you’ll enjoy Har Mar Superstar even if you think classic soul is all about crooning for love; fun, a lot of variety, and just a blast.

We’ve got links to “Lady You Shot Me,” and more “Har Mar” on Soundcloud.

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