From what I’ve seen, 2010 seems to be the year that artists are putting away the techno and auto-tune and taking leaps to step into music genres they aren’t exactly comfortable with. Dallas native Luis Dubuc, the man behind The Secret Handshake, is no exception with the release of his fourth studio album Night & Day on Triple Crown Records.
Known widely for his cover of the 1994 hit, I Wish, by Skee-Lo, Dubuc was a pioneer in the techno music scene. With his somewhat overly auto-tuned vocals and computer generated jingles, he took the scene by storm and didn’t slow down. So what prompted this drastic 180 degree transformation? Dubuc still sings of the brighter sides of love and the dark sides of heartbreak in “Night & Day”, but he has adopted a more organic feel in both the music and it’s execution for this album. Instead of being comparable to the music of artists such as Hellogoodbye, the music is more reminiscent of artists similar to The Jackson 5. It hits an era that young present listeners may have been introduced to briefly, as well as one their parents know quiet well.
Songs off the album like Magic, Domino and Used To Be Sweet (featuring the vocals of Valerie Anne Poxleitner a.k.a.LIGHTS) seem to represent the album’s overall Motown feel the best. Scant backing vocals (and wisely so) accompany Dubuc as he tries his luck at soulful singing devoid of editing. Jazzy brass instruments bring the Motown vibe alive as they act as an accent in each song. As one listens to Dubuc’s stripped vocals, it becomes apparent that he is obviously an untrained vocalist. I think it is a very brave and bold mood to change the sound and production of one’s music so abruptly and I applaud him for it. But I don’t think he was considering how much of a difference it would make in his vocal quality to not depend on tuning.
For previous fans, I think this record is either a hit or miss. Either you appreciate the fact that his sound has made a complete transformation or you might as well stick to listening to previous work that you have grown to love from Dubuc.
For me, as a frequent listener, this album is so-so. I had to admit when I first heard it I wasn’t sure what I was listening to due to the fact I had become so accustomed to lumping The Secret Handshake into that electronic scene. Night & Day is a long shot from being even somewhat similar to any of his previous records. It took me a couple of listens to the album as a whole to really appreciate the direction he was trying to take. I then heard that Duboc was releasing two different versions of this album. The “Day” version consisting of the Soul/Motown songs and the “Night” version consisting of electronic remixes to each of the tracks.
So if you enjoy music that makes an effort to step back a few generations (and only partially succeeds) giving Night & Day a chance might benefit you. If you are looking more for an older TSH sound you might just want to skip listening to this and go buy his other album, My Name Up In Lights, that he released just last year or purchase the “Night” version separately on iTunes. If you want both, purchase the Deluxe edition!
By Becca White