Samuel Lunsford, aka Stimulator Jones, grew up in Roanoke, Virginia – not exactly a hotbed of R&B – but, undeterred by the scene around him, Jones started to put out his own brand of slinky, disco-infused funk. This, his debut, is a suitably confusing offering.
Lunsford’s clear musicality is what shines the brightest. Raised by a musical family, Jones played drums and taught himself guitar as a child, as well as cutting his teeth as a hip-hop DJ before starting to write his own music. Opener ‘Water Slide’ is a sultry, ’70s thumper, all lustful crooning and yearning riffs.
Sadly, it’s all downhill from here. Jones plays and sings every note on this album, as well as assuming production duties. An ambitious decision – but one that could be too ambitious. Across the album’s eleven tracks, it’s hard to distinguish where one finishes and another begins; indulgent and frustratingly one-note, you can’t help but wonder if another person had joined Jones on production whether the monotony could have been avoided.
Then there are the lyrics: ‘Exotic Worlds and Masterful Treasures’ was probably intended as a collection of sultry jams, but too often it sounds like the whines of a possessive ex. “I know there’s somebody in your bed” he wails on ‘Soon Never Comes’, “but you know, you know that’s alright“. Dead woke, right? Then he quickly adds: “Cause that don’t mean my game ain’t tight” – just so everybody remembers that Jones is a sex legend and can get tons of huns into bed with him. At times they border on the unbearably cringeworthy. Take ‘Tempt Me With Your Love’ which includes the choice cut: “You know my heart, can’t be contained/you’re the one I’m always thinking of/you tempt me with your love”. Calm down, Romeo!
It’s exasperating, because the album could have been so much better. One can’t deny Stimulator Jones’ mad talent – he’s clearly honed his craft, knows how to write songs, and is a brilliant multi-instrumentalist – but this limp debut shows just a glimmer of his true potential.