Atlanta-based Charles Luck heads a collaborative crew of sensational singers and rappers from all over the world, called Black Astronaut, who blend hip hop and EDM along with strong classic rock, soul, R&B and pop influences in their songs. One of those collaborators is rapper, singer and producer Tino Red. Together, the two have a musical Midas touch that is great for the soul, so thankfully, they make a triumphant return with a brand new single, entitled “Alive Or Just Breathing?” The production on the track is more sparing and judicious than any of its predecessor’s, but just as often favoring spacious atmospherics. While many a gifted singer labors under busy arrangements, Charles Luck’s, “Alive Or Just Breathing?” keeps Tino Red’s voice at the forefront; they don’t add much because not much is required.
This is a song that opens with Tino crooning over a rich and dominant piano. The chorus begs for a big musical moment, but even with a swelling lump of emotion building, it’s Tino’s soaring performance that carries the song along with its magnificent narrative.
The determined but poignant piano that weaves itself around Tino Red’s incomparable vocals on “Alive Or Just Breathing?” creates a angsty emotional state begs for your attention, while the soulful sashay offers up a beautifully classic feel, creating a track that already feels like an old-time favorite.
“Are you alive / Or just breathing? / Is the fire in you fleeing / And you find that you’re feeling / Fine with that feeling? / But know it’s not right.” Any allusions to the legendary Sam Cooke, would not seem too far out of place for this soulful performance. The music is perfect for the mood of the song. Anything more would merely overpower Tino Red’s vocals or undermine his vulnerability.
That is the gift of Tino Red: In a world of auto-tune hacks, there is something honestly refreshing about someone who can sing circles alongside the angels. Sincerity, interrogation and heartfelt confession may leave Charles Luck and Tino Red’s songs wear their hearts on their sleeves, but that is what makes them so damned intriguing and relatable.
“Alive Or Just Breathing?” is as cannily constructed as we’ve come to expect from Charles Luck, and it sounds like it could be a radio hit: The composition is sturdy, the melody instantly memorable, and the lyrics effective in breathing new life into familiar tropes.
It’s the songwriting that makes this song a richer experience than the stunning vocals already achieve. And one that reflects some of the fraught emotions at play in life. “Alive Or Just Breathing?” takes the soul, spirit, and sound Charles Luck fans have come to love to the next level. It shows the project’s growth in more ways than one. The song’s raw authenticity is a refreshing break from the contents of the current mainstream charts.
OFFICIAL LINKS: SOUNDCLOUD