Stephanie Rooker & the Search Engine | The Only Way Out is In

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Urban/R&B: Soul Jazz: Jazz-Funk Moods: Type: Vocal
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The Only Way Out is In

by Stephanie Rooker & the Search Engine

This strong sophomore album weaves through an impressive array of styles (smoky neo-soul/hip-hop-funk/jazz balladry/groove-grounded bossa) & bears witness to the power of self-discovery as well as the rewards that come from turning your attention outward.
Genre: Urban/R&B: Soul
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. What If
4:47 $0.99
2. Sellin Ya Soul
4:06 $0.99
3. I Feel Like
5:59 $0.99
4. Play
4:03 $0.99
5. Weather
3:57 $0.99
6. Thank You
4:45 $0.99
7. Rise
4:27 $0.99
8. The Only Way Out is In
6:45 $0.99
9. When We Gon' Care
7:40 $0.99
10. Secret Sauce
1:40 album only
11. Get Up
4:56 $0.99
12. Wait in Line
5:34 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Ben Tyree – guitar, bass (track 7), backing vocal (track 12)
Mamiko Watanabe – rhodes, piano
Lawrence Qualls – drums
Mark Williams – trombone
Jen Rooker – backing vocals
V Jeffrey Smith – tenor & sop saxes, flute
Jahmal Nichols – bass (tracks 1,2,3,6,10,11,12)
Theo Harden – bass (tracks 5,8,9)

Special Guests:
John Medeski – organ (tracks 1,2,10,11,12)
DJ Logic – turntables (track 2)
Kalae AllDay – vocals (track 2)
Chesney Snow – beatbox (track 3,11)
Roland Barber – trombone (tracks 1,6)
Justice Dilla X – vocals (track 9)
Will Martina – cello (track 4,8,9)
Gary Fritz – percussion (4,5,6,12)
members of the Riverside Inspirational Choir – vocals (track 12)

All songs ©2010 RookLove Productions/Stephanie Rooker & Ben Tyree.
ⓟ2010 Cross the Cove (ASCAP), Sonic Architectures (ASCAP), Vallen Music (SESAC)

Produced by Ben Tyree
Recorded @ GödelString, Brooklyn, NY (2009-2010)
Engineers: Joel Hamburger, Dan Rosato, Marlan Barry
Mixed by Joel Hamburger / Mastered by Josh Bonati
Photos by Kat Soutar / Design by Bisco

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Also, it's not very nice.

"Come on get up, stand up – show ‘em what you’re made of,” sings Stephanie Rooker early in the soulful, slow-grooving "Rise.” "What you give is what you get." It's no mere platitude: if there's a recurring theme to Rooker's music – which recalls the cosmic R&B of Erykah Badu, the warm, jazz-referencing neo-soul of Sade and Jill Scott and even the smokiness of prime Joni Mitchell – it's that you get out of life what you put into it. That it's giving of yourself – your time, your talents, your love – that yields the richest reward. "My dad ran a few community newspapers in southwest Virginia, where I grew up," Rooker explains. "When I worked for him, one thing he'd ask me over and over was, 'How is what you're writing offering something to people? How is what you're doing contributing to society?'" These days, Rooker applies that same social awareness to her music, turning out simmering songs that have not just heart and soul, but conscience as well.

For an artist so early in her career, Rooker has already shored up an impressive resume. Since her debut release, Tellin You Right Now, in 2008, she's performed at New York's historic Blue Note, Blues Alley in Washington D.C. and the prestigious Jefferson Center in Roanoke, VA. In March of 2010, she was selected to be an artist-in-residence with the John F. Kennedy Center’s esteemed Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program. She's also, in just two years, managed to surround herself with an impressive roster of talent – members of her band, the Search Engine, have shared the stage with Wynton Marsalis, Victor Wooten, Bobby McFerrin, Vikki Winans and Joe Lovano. That she can net such high-profile players is a testament to Rooker's rare talent: a warm, rich, evocative voice and a knack for fully inhabiting her limber soul songs.

Rooker studied Ethnomusicology at Oberlin College, with a special emphasis on the music of West Africa and the Diaspora -- coursework that inspired Rooker to spend four months in Ghana, recording traditional songs of the Ashanti, Dagomba and Ga tribes and studying their music as a means of communal expression. "Being able to see the different ways that music was being harnessed and utilized in these cultures changed my life forever," she says. Rooker also found that her studies in Africa translated directly to her understanding of and appreciation for American R&B and gospel music. "It was by studying the way African music changed through the slave trade – as well as Jim Crow, the Great Migration and the Civil Rights movement – that made me realize what powerful a force music can be, both as an agent for change as well as an expression of a people's collective experience."

That idea – music as a conduit for collective expression and a catalyst for change -- shows up again and again in her second record, The Only Way Out is In. Guitarist Ben Tyree – who's played with everyone from Vernon Reid to Burnt Sugar, the Arkestra Chamber to TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone – produced the album, which boasts appearances from celebrated Bronx turntablist DJ Logic and organist John Medeski -- who plays on five of the album's 12 tracks. The Only Way bears witness to the power of self-discovery as well as the rewards that come from turning your attention outward. " I feel very holistic about it," Rooker says. "A lot of my music is about my personal journey and discovering myself, because if you don’t deal with yourself, you're not going to be much good at helping other people."

On The Only Way Out is In, Rooker nestles this message of personal and societal rehabilitation in an impressive array of styles. "When We Gon' Care" is a tense, slow-building spoken word number that finds her casting a skeptical eye on crumbling 21st century culture, dismantling everything from vapid reality television to a corrupt corporate health care system as the band pitches and rolls behind her. "What If" is smoky neo-soul punctuated by tight, stop-start breakdowns, burbling, Stax-inspired organ and languid, dusky horns. "Rise," with its darting bass line and lithe melody mines a deep, persistent groove. And the title track, with its slow, winding melody and pinpricks of guitar, is a ballad of perseverance and determination, with Rooker singing, "Move on, stay strong, eyes up, ear to the ground – it ain't over ‘til you say it's over."

“I want to be very deliberate about the messages I'm putting out,” Rooker continues. “I always ask myself, 'Is this serving anyone? Is this offering anything to anyone?' In the end, that's the ultimate goal."



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