For a live instrumental take, “Tearz” sounds remarkably like a pastiche of other songs– that’s  because in many ways, it is. Brooklyn’s El Michel’s Affair, the house band behind Truth & Soul Records, has been quietly releasing effusive, Wu-Tang inspired instrumentals for a few years (past ones include “4th Chamber” and “C.R.E.A.M.”, all of which is featured on the 2009 release, Enter The 37th Chamber). These aren’t mere covers of sample origins but rather spins on RZA’s interpolations.


The arrangement and tone of the chorus is completely flipped; Wendy Rene’s vocals are replaced by a lithe, breathy, almost ethereal version sung by Shannon Wise of The Shacks. The underlying organ of the original doesn’t even appear until the midway point after a long break of drums and bass licks. But the song’s apex is also the arrangement’s end; Truth & Soul’s flagship artist, longtime soulman Lee Fields hops on the finale and croons and croons and croons and croons. This is another great release on Big Crown and Lee’s short yet sweet touch is the proverbial cherry on top of the cherry. – David Ma