I’m not going to pretend like I wasn’t skeptical about this album…
I am a huge fan of Esperanza Spalding. One of my favorite jazz albums is her Grammy Award-winning 2008 album Esperanza and I’ve gone on record many times to say so. Between collaborations with Algebra Blessett and Janelle Monáe and covers of Michael Jackson songs, I’ve been sold on her for years now. But earlier this year, Esperanza released two singles from her new album —”One” and “Good Lava” — and afterwards, I found myself lost on how to feel. She’s always been known to shift sounds from album to album, but the sheer shock value coming from those singles, especially “Good Lava,” kept me at bay. I’d seen reviews from her tour that she went on last year in early promotion for this new project Emily’s D+Evolution and for some reason, a good number of them were negative, saying things like “everything was weird” and “there wasn’t any jazz.”
These people were right. This new album is definitely weird, and there really isn’t a whole lot of strictly by-the-books jazz to be found here, but I’ll be damned if my skepticism wasn’t misplaced. Emily’s D+Evolution is a great piece of work.
It starts off with the very song I turned my face up at (even though I quickly changed my mind on it after a full listen of the album), and slowly begins to ease you in to the world it’s building around you. There are loud guitar riffs, ridiculous drums, and skittish “pretty girl” flows everywhere. Each song gets better as it goes on – or maybe it’s that you grow more comfortable with the vibe with each track. I haven’t really figured it out yet, even after listening to it on shuffle. Once that initial “wow” has passed, a lot of the album becomes a lot easier to digest. There is a very childlike and bipolar quality to it as a whole, with songs shifting from protests to lullabies in mere seconds.
Esperanza’s soothing voice has always been a pleasant treat in her music, and even amongst all the chaos here, that still stands. Her voice is hypnotizing in songs like “Rest in Pleasure” and “Noble Nobles.” Oh, and did I mention that there’s a cover of a song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory here? There’s a lot to love about this album, and I honestly feel dumb for doubting that Esperanza Spalding could pull off something so strange. I’ll make sure to apologize when I see her in April.
Judas, One, Rest In Pleasure, Noble Nobles, I Want It Now
Have you listened to this album yet? What did you think about it (and what did you think of this review? It’s been a while)? Drop your thoughts down in the comments.
Thanks for reading.