Ever since the development of “PBR&B”, a nocturnal, introspective sound that swept America’s airwaves about 10 years ago, lengthy R&B records have been a tad risky. Will the filtered synths and relaxed verses turn into a stylish neon sludge, or has real attention been paid to structure, songcraft and quality control?
Luckily in New York based singer, songwriter and producer Amber Mark’s case Three Dimensions Deep is a winner, as diverse production allows for a collection of tunes that are never boring.
Most of the lyrical content is centred around relationships, whether leaving them or entering them (“out here like ‘hey, what’s up’ / ‘tis the season of cuff / and I need that gushy stuff / give me a love so soft”), while FOMO focuses on the need to socialise and have fun after being stuck inside, a notion that feels very pertinent for 2022. Mark’s delivery is elegant and versatile, switching to the rapped third verse with panache.
Musically Three Dimensions Deep is a delight, with a flute solo on Bubbles, irresistible wah-wah on Bliss and warm synth chords on What It Is contributing to the lush atmosphere, to name a few prime examples. Not all of the tracks fit within the confines of modern R&B either: Darkside is an electrifying pop song, featuring percussion that thuds, shakes and clangs, syncopated verses with fine-tuned attitude and a truly anthemic hook. Event Horizon also sticks out as a beatless, shimmering outro to the record, perhaps a little mushy but certainly forgivable in its context.
Influences here are myriad – On & On owes its plodding beat to Frank Ocean’s Super Rich Kids, Softly’s intricate harp pattern brings back memories of the finest Darkchild productions – but with this kind of debut Amber Mark is demonstrating an enviable talent that easily transcends mere homage.