Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution

emily's d+evolution(Concord Records)

Appropriate listening for International Women’s Day. The bass player, singer, composer and genre-busting explorer expands her already wide range of music under the guidance of her muse Emily (her middle name).

With Spalding on electric fretless bass and vocals are guitarist Matthew Stevens and drummers Justin Tyson and Karriem Riggins. The songs show influences from Joni Mitchell (Earth To Heaven) and Kate Bush (Good Lava or One) as well as perhaps Cream and Prince, and possibly Shostakovitch too. Former David Bowie producer Tony Visconti is in on six of the tracks and some were recorded live before a small audience.

Unconditional Love has a hooky, beguiling melody and shows Spalding’s voice is as effortlessly acrobatic as her bass playing. Judas continues in the same vein, with an irresistable bass and drums groove going on underneath as a kind of counter melody to what the guitar and the vocals are doing. Rest In Peace has great metallic guitar and another snakey vocal line. She makes it all sound so easy.

If the album feels a little exhausting on the first few listens, it’s that her hyperactive creativity means she packs in new ideas every few seconds, the tunes twisting and turning in ways that would make a top-twenty listener deeply confused, the production packing layer upon musical layer. And yet, it’s all presented with such flair and pop appeal…

Mind-boggling but also very interesting indeed.

Categories: CD review

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