The way dark liquor usually works on the brain is quite easy. For most, dark is classy. There aren’t any punches pulled or gimmicks with dark liquor, it’s smooth and leaves you in a state of calm. Dark liquor for better or worse is a classic mood setter. Jack Freeman understand the nature of dark liquor and on his EP aptly titled Dark Liquor, the Houston native quickly establishes a sound that is deeply rooted in classic soul.

If listeners are unaware of Freeman’s talents, be pointed in the direction of The Niceguys’ single “Not At All”. Freeman’s soulful vocals on the chorus spark the track and give it its diverse sound. However, we’re not placing the talented Mr. Freeman in Nate Dogg territory, for he can actually craft a product serviceable beyond an eight-bar hook.

Freeman’s crafted seven tracks, each one expression different shades of emotion and common topics found in today’s R&B. Catering to women is an obvious starting point and Freeman’s spin on the topic reminds listeners of early Dwele, especially the lead track “Away”. Freeman hopes to confide in an acquaintance about starting new and becoming different. The simple piano keys backing Freeman showcases his vocal range, equal parts silky smooth and harmonious. The same can be said on the Greg Giant produced “His Place”, a song  that takes the role of hoping and wishing for one chance with a particular woman placed with the wrong man and the wrong situation.

When Freeman escapes his swooning over love, his reflection pieces are heavy & heartfelt. With “20/20”, the singer climbs in front of a harrowing piano break and commands attention from the moment he echoes “reminiscing on yesterday/all the things I did and words I used to say”. The closer “Figure It Out” is a modern version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”. A breezy Spanish guitar and congo drum may give the impression that the song is playful but Freeman nails the idea of a troubled man with ease.

The Rolls Royce cover of “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” is a great bonus addition to flex Freeman’s range but throughout the EP he proves that he’s comfortable in the skin of actual soul music rather than the cookie cutter pop sound modern R&B seems to be gunning for these days. Dark Liquor is enticing, a mature release from the man who should be known for more than just lending a hook to a hit record.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5