Ann Arbor musician Antwaun Stanley has collaborated with a number of artists during his career. He’s known for his vocal performances with Vulfpeck (check out Vulfpeck’s Wait for the Moment if you haven’t already), and Ann Street Soul (listen to their cover of Sunny).
Most recently Stanley has combined forces with Ben Silverstein, the keyboardist from the Main Squeeze. Silverstein records his solo projects under the name Smile High. Smile High is expected to release an EP sometime early this year. In the meantime, Silverstein and Stanley have thrown listeners a teaser with their song, Special, which they recorded with the Main Squeeze’s guitarist, Max Newman.
You can tell that Stanley is a part of this song, and not just because he sings lead vocals. Stanley has a way of imprinting a bit of himself and his unique polish in all of his projects. In Special, the instruments — the piano and guitar — follow Stanley’s lead. It sounds as if this song is built around Stanley’s vocal runs, though Silverstein’s soulful piano playing and Newman’s guitar licks are also showcased throughout the piece. The lyrics here are simple and they repeat throughout the song. “You’re really feeling down…you gotta know that you’re enough…keep on pressing on…you are a diamond…you got something special.” What a welcome brightness in the middle of this stressful winter!
Sometimes when the pieces of a song fit this well together, it is hard to take them apart. The first time I heard Special I didn’t want to analyze anything. I let myself get lost in the smooth mix of the vocals and instrumentals. The artists here don’t sound like separate entities; everyone is one the same page. These musicians play off of each other’s strengths. It was only after the third or fourth listen (a testament to how catchy the song is) that I allowed myself to parse the tune.
Smile High’s Special, seems to stay the closest to the Main Squeeze’s base of fans. Special is upbeat with funk roots. The song could almost be mistaken for a Vulfpeck tune because of its bouncing funk feel. The other singles that Smile High has released thus far are a bit different. Yodel Up and Steady sound more like dream pop/chill R&B. I was reminded of Moonchild when I listened to Steady. Smile High’s latest single, Take Flight, sounds more like soul. I can’t wait to hear the entirety of the EP when it comes out.
You can find music from Antwaun Stanley, the Main Squeeze, Smile High, and Vulfpeck on Spotify, Youtube, Instagram, or Facebook.