Release Date: 1999
The title of G. Love & Special Sauce’s fourth album illustrates their desire to play up their Philadelphia roots, emphasizing classic Philly soul along with their blues-rap melange. Philadelphonic isn’t entirely unsuccessful on that front, either. The group’s laid-back, groove-oriented sound benefits from the sophisticated, sultry sound of Philly soul, as the single “Rodeo Clowns” illustrates. The problem is, G. Love & Special Sauce still winds up sacrificing songs for groove and feel. That wouldn’t be so bad if Philadelphonic was simply a series of jams, but they continue to write material that feels like songs but never gels. They turn out to be vehicles for jams and half-hearted, muttered raps, neither of which provide hooks or memorable turns of phrase. That doesn’t mean Philadelphonic doesn’t sound good, since the group does have a way with a groove — it just never really rises above the level of a groove-jam album.