Uptown Special, the latest offering from successful dance-pop artist and producer Mark Ronson, is expected to be released Jan. 13. It will be the fourth studio album for Ronson, who made a big splash in 2007 with his sophomore release Version, which included collaborations with Amy Winehouse and Robbie Williams.
The new album also features some impressive musicians, among them the iconic Stevie Wonder, who contributed to the opening track, “Uptown’s First Finale,” and the closing track, “Crack In the Pearl, Pt. II.” Bruno Mars joins Ronson on “Uptown Funk!,” a hit single which they co-wrote and produced.
Other artists who worked on the album include Mystikal, Andrew Wyatt, Kevin Parker, Keyone Starr and Jeff Bhasker, who wrote and produced the LP with Ronson. A Grammy Award-winning record producer, Bhasker has worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Drake.
One of the most intriguing things about this album is the fact that Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) wrote many of the lyrics for the songs—one exception being “Uptown Funk!” It’s unusual for a well-known novelist to branch out into pop music, but Chabon is Ronson’s favorite living author. Chabon didn’t stop at songwriting; he was deeply involved in the project, even working in the recording studio.
Ronson was fortunate to collaborate with some of his biggest heroes. Speaking to Rolling Stone, he got emotional when describing Stevie Wonder’s contribution, saying “It’s probably the peak musical highlight of my life. I’m fine if I never top it.”
Anyone who has followed Ronson’s career will notice that he is returning to his roots with Uptown Special. After what he called an “identity crisis” in the wake of 2010’s Record Collection, the new album is clearly influenced by the hip-hop, R&B, soul and funk sounds he grew up with and worked on during his days as a DJ.