Appearing on the first in the new series of Later…..with Jools Holland – and perhaps having an extended showing in tonight’s lengthier show – I was impressed enough to listen to his latest Malibu. What struck immediately in his live performance was the sweetness of his soul/R&B vocal, and this is sustained across the 16 tracks on the album, too many really, that bridge jazz and blues and hip hop. Opener The Bird is the jewel in the crown, a jazz infused reflection of the hardships in his growing up and his positive outlook on the experience.
Fuller hip hop offerings like The Waters, featuring BJ the Chicago Kid, appeal less to my ears – but will clearly please so many others – yet I do like the echo of Marvin Gaye that drifts across at the start, and the jazz roots within, again, remind a little of Mos Def. A song like The Season – I Care engages because of the complexities in the production: the scratch, as requisite, and then the expansive vocal harmonisings/over-dubs, though when it moves to its second part of more conventional rap and recorded inserts it is less panoramic.
Put Me Thru echoes of Curtis Mayfield and then a boarder soul-vocal sound, and I am back in my comfort zone. So in essence this fine performer and album have a broad appeal, and I wouldn’t be the target audience but recognise its class and appreciate so much of its quality music.