“I’d be listening to my slow jams on the way to football games,” recalls Barry Amisone, the 28-year-old Samoan singer-songwriter known as Barry Black, whose humble beginnings were not onstage but on a football field, nearly 10 years ago. Since playing strong safety for Green Valley High in the early 2000s, Black has made a name for himself as an up-and-coming soul singer—his first EP, Lost and Found, was released November 11, and he was recently featured on Season 5 of The Voice. But even when he was suiting up for football practice, Black says, music was front and center in his mind. “I [sang] all the time on the football field.”
It wasn’t until college that Black realized his love for soul and R&B could be channeled into a full-fledged career. “I joined a couple of Vegas show bands when I was 19,” and he spent part of 2007 locked in a room, teaching himself how to play the guitar. It was then that Black devised a plan to make it as a musician. Seven years later, his five-song EP is available on iTunes, with an official release party at Sunset Station’s Club Madrid on Friday.
“Girl we got some time/And I wanna make you mine/Girl we got enough/Just enough for us,” Black croons on opening track “Better Than,” each velvety line exuding just the right amount of sexy-cool. Black is careful not to take things too seriously, though. Recorded at his own BBSoul Studios, Lost and Found might be bedroom music, but it’s hardly cringe-inducing, even if “In My Bed” is a little too on the nose.
Instead, the EP focuses on smooth, crisp production, harkening back to slow jams from the ’80s and ’90s with all the bells and whistles, including Black’s sharp-as-a-knife backing band The Senzuals, violins and a horn section. “These are a lot of the first songs I wrote,” Black admits, which suggests there are plenty more in his cannon waiting to be polished. “I’m kinda splitting genres,” he says, and he’s already putting the finishing touches on a first full-length, due in February. “This EP is more of my R&B, mellow side. The next one will [have] more of an upbeat, reggae, pop-feel.”
Barry Black EP Release Party November 21, 10 p.m., $16. Sunset Station’s Club Madrid, 702-547-7777.