Having heard rave reviews about this record, I decided to pick up a copy, despite R&B being a genre I've never given much time or attention. It was the fourteen year hiatus between records that intrigued me, despite that being somewhat irrelevant. With an open mind and a new found love for exploring music I gave it a try, and thoroughly enjoyed this record of which I had few points of reference for.
D'Angelo's back story is an interesting one, at a young age he received praise and acclaim for his voice which would guide him into the music business, creating two records that had monumental success before disappearing from the limelight, disillusioned by his fame and status. Fourteen years later we have "Black Messiah", an easy flowing record of laid back groove and soothing soul that ebbs and flows with D'Angelos harmonious voice swaggering sweet vocal infectious in an effortless breeze of ranges, peaks and styles.
His voice is a highlight, a point of attention, but the instrumentals are as much a part of the chemistry creating a chilled, versatile setting for funking grooves to content with a soulful counterpart. The bass bobs and weaves under claps and kicks that strike a powerful rhythm without need for force. The guitars, pianos, trumpets and occasional strings all contribute with a subtlety of force that can do so much with so little as each add quiet inflections to the groove in the moment's there not playing a lead, or directing the drama with sudden hits and strikes. It utilizes simplicity and executes it with cunning, for example a simple clap, kick and whistle groove on "The Door" with acoustic guitars accenting the vocal leads creates so much without filling all the spaces. Its not the sort of sound I'm used too, but I'm liking everything about it and this album is increasingly enjoyable with every listen.
Favorite Tracks: The Charade, Prayer, Another Life