Silk Show They're Still Smooth With Love Session

Veteran R&B group's latest album climbs to #16.

When the members of Silk started working on Love Session, they felt like the pressure was on, but only from themselves.

"Every album that we do, there's always a sense of urgency, a sense of 'We gotta do better than the last one,'" said Big G. And for Silk — who blew up in 1993 with "Freak Me," from their multiplatinum debut, Lose Control, and followed with the gold Silk and the platinum Tonight — that means keeping things fresh without losing sight of what made them popular in the first place.

"We always try to figure out how we can bring something new, but on the flip side, we always look back and try to figure out what we've been doing right," said Lil' G, adding that they'll never stray too far from the sexy, harmony-driven sound that their fans expect.

Love Session, which is at #16 on Billboard's R&B/hip-hop albums chart, includes plenty of ballads, like the steamy "Afterplay," but it also finds the group getting into an uptempo vibe on the title track. Lil' G said the album's diversity reflects the fact that the group members themselves wrote more of the material than ever before and co-produced the disc with Darrell "Delite" Allamby.

"That made it feel like we had more freedom," Lil' G said. "Delite was aware coming in that we wanted more control and more input, and he let us really shine."

As proud as they are of their writing and production contributions, the group members are just as excited about the album's second single, a cover of the Rick James song "Ebony Eyes." They had originally thought about doing it for 1999's Tonight but held off because they didn't want to just retread James' original.

"We knew we had to take the song to a new level," Big G said of their version, which emphasizes the vocal harmonies while keeping the funky beats of James' version. "That song shows off all the elements of our group — the rich, smooth harmonies in the background, the high, soft tones like Smokey Robinson, and that edge that Rick James has."

And what does James think of it? "Teena Marie told us the other night that he heard it and was overwhelmed with it," Big G said. "He's really in pocket with it. I can't think of a bigger compliment."

These days, the R&B landscape is filled with male vocal groups like Jagged Edge, Ideal and Next. The guys in Silk said they don't feel any competition; in fact, they get satisfaction knowing that Lose Control helped jump-start that style's renaissance.

"We actually feel like we're the pioneers of that, of bringing back real vocal groups," Big G said. "All the groups coming out after us, we wish them well. We're just blessed to be in the position of still being here nine years later."