Silver Skylarks drops a Dallas classic with ‘The Number One Set and Sound’

(L to R) Jeff “Skin” Wade and Danny Balis are Silver Skylarks. Photo: Jason Chinnock

Pressing play on Silver Skylarks’ debut LP The Number One Set and Sound feels like discovering a hidden treasure during a crate dig at a record shop. Knowing the Dallas-based minds behind the project — Danny Balis and Jeff “Skin” Wade — such a vibe is absolutely intentional.

What becomes clear listening to this 10-track collection, which dropped May 3, is the pair, with some help from their friends, more than achieved their goal — The Number One Set and Sound might be the funkiest, tightest record to emanate from North Texas in a long while.

These tracks are tangentially connected to another project near and dear to Balis and Wade: Bastards of Soul, which featured Balis on bass and Wade again in production mode. It was a series of sketches Balis crafted during his stint in that now-defunct band which made Wade see a new avenue for creativity.

“Danny was in a prolific mode of songwriting and just cranking out one killer demo after another,” Wade said in a statement. “It was obvious to me that he was on a vibe deviating from what we were doing with Bastards of Soul and could easily lead to a separate project/sound more aligned with what I used to search for in my old hip-hop/beat-digging days.”

A tasteful collage

The Number One Set and Sound is sequenced like a mix — in a rarity for promotional materials, and another indicator of the pair’s intent, the record was provided to critics with “side one” and “side two” mixes, creating a continuous flow — and guitar, keys, percussion and brass all commingle to create a mood redolent of dim lights, lava lamps and hideous fabric on the furniture.

Showcasing Lone Star talent

Balis and Wade both have formidable Rolodexes, and aren’t afraid to flex them in service of Silver Skylarks. Balis contributes guitar and bass throughout, with Jordache Grant on keys and synths and Lunar RAE on traps. That trio is joined by Robert Ellis, Mark Lettieri and Adrian Quesada on guitar across various tracks, alongside rapper-producer Large Professor, who contributes vocals on the album’s title track (S-Ankh, Gregg A. Smith and Uncle Roy and Spice also sing on the record). Dallas rap legend The D.O.C. even makes a spoken word cameo, further cementing the project’s street cred.

Soundtrack of the summer?

As the kids are fond of saying, The Number One Set and Sound is a complete mood. It’s not a stretch to suggest throwing this record on repeat at any and all summer gatherings by the pool, the grill or the lake will endear you to your friends and family. It’s an expertly made work — brimming with talent, bursting with passion and all but begging for a sequel. After all, a sensation this pleasant should be sustained as long as possible.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.