HIDDEN GEMS Saun & Starr, “Look Closer” By John Morrison · January 08, 2020

Singers Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan-Lowe first met in 1986 at an open mic night in Harlem. In 1991, the Bronx natives reunited at an audition for a wedding band and, as luck would have it, the lead singer they were auditioning for was future-soul legend Sharon Jones. Eventually the wedding band broke up and Jones joined forces with the Dap-Kings with Williams and Duncan-Lowe signing on as backup singers. After years of working with Jones and the Dap-Kings, the Saun & Starr duo released their debut album Look Closer in 2015.

Backed by the Dap-Kings, Look Closer’s sound is steeped in the deeply funky and melodic tradition of ‘60s and ‘70s soul groups like The Emotions or The Charmels. Williams and Duncan-Lowe’s voices evince a steady drive as they tackle the album’s fiery set of songs. The title track “Look Closer (Can’t You See The Signs?)” is a catchy mid-tempo groover with heavy drums and stacked brass until the song’s arrangement collapses at the midway point into a dreamy, psychedelic haze before the chorus kicks back in. Songs like the funky Stax-esque dance cut “Sunshine (You’re Blowin’ My Cool)” and the stunning ballad “If Only,” reveal the duo’s genius for finding a unique spin on timeless soul music styles. Look Closer is a lean, exciting slice of modern soul music and is the sound of two veterans stepping forward from the background to embrace their spotlight.

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