The original Delfonics lineup split up decades ago, but their legacy has lingered. The hip-hop generation saw to that, using Thom Bell’s velvety arrangements and the achingly sweet falsetto of lead singer William Hart to striking effect. Enter Adrian Younge, the Black Dynamite soundtrack mastermind who’s also collaborated with avowed Delfonics fanatic Ghostface Killah (Pretty Toney highlight “Holla” famously paid homage to “La-La – Means I Love You”). Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics is an unusual type of throwback: Younge’s muddy, lo-fi atmospherics recall low-budget early ’70s local-label 45s more than they do Bell’s vintage lushness. But the hallmarks of those classic albums’ instrumentation — burbling electric sitar, tinkling harps, chiming bells — are not only present but mix well with Younge’s characteristic elements of blown-out fuzz guitar and bone-chilling organ. And if Hart’s once-delicate falsetto has aged into something with a bit more bite to it, it cuts through the production’s intense haze vividly and harmonizes lushly with the young backup singers Saudia Mills and Loren Oden. With a slate of achingly heartfelt love songs — the blues-drenched garage-soul of “Lost Without You”; the haunting Om’Mas Keith collabration “Stop and Look”; the early ’60s vibe of “I Can’t Cry No More” — this is a fitting addition to the canon of a justly revered name in R&B.
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