Three years in the making, but well worth the wait!
Taylor McFerrin began releasing music in 2006. The music be made was a hybrid of beat boxing and down tempo house. It was the logical progression of something his father (Bobby McFerrin) started in the 1980’s. Using the voice as an instrument, rather just for singing. The technique isn’t new, but mixed with contemporary dance music the results were effective.
Fast forward to 2011 and Taylor released his next single. A Place in My Heart was released on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder inprint. Brainfeeder have released some of the most forward thinking electronica music in recent years, and A Place in My Heart fitted in perfectly with this mind set (https://thisyearinmusic.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/11072013-taylor-mcferrin-featuring-ryat-place-in-my-heart-2011/).
This week sees the release of his debut album Early Riser. Has it been worth the wait, or has the suspense and hype destroyed what could have been a good album. Luckily the album lives up to and surpasses all expectation.
Early Riser is an apt name. McFerrin has managed to evoke that feeling you get when you wake up before anyone else, the world is bathed in a warming glow from the Sun and anything seems possible. The album is ethereal and dreamlike, but with a firm hold on melody. McFerrin’s lyrics are half whispered half sung adding to the early morning mood. The beats are hard and clear, whereas the synths and keyboards (slightly prog like at times) are woozy. You feel that they are all around you, a little like mist but more warming and less damp. At times it makes you think that this is the kind of music Prince should be making, if he hadn’t lost the plot a bit and starting writing on his cheek. It has that swagger his songs used to have.
I usually hate this analogy, but some of the tracks feel like musical paintings. I don’t mean in the Ken Nordine way. The background is laid down by the bass, drums and vocals, but the detail in the foreground is applied by subtle keyboards, hand claps, backing vocals. Each have been delicately added for texture and to enhance the story of the piece.
If this is the future of soul then I can’t wait to hear the reinvention of the genre!
If you like this why not check out
One of best new voices in the UK releases new single, it’s pretty special
Kwabs can sing. This might sound like a stupid thing to say, but it’s true. In his voice the real story of the song is told. Not everyone can do this, and in an age where auto tune corrects all the imperfections it’s nice to hear someone actually sing. His voice has a depth and quality to it that is older than his years.
Musically the song has enough going on to keep it from getting boring. It skirts to the edgy side of the pop spectrum. It opens with a diffused drum beat (with a slight vocal hum just below it in the mix). After 15 seconds Kwabs vocals come, after this point the song ever looks back. It follows the verse chorus pattern. Piano and guitar are thrown into the mix. It isn’t until the middle eight that Kwabs shows how clean and clear his voice really is. Praise should be given to Ben Drew (AKA Plan B) for pulling off an accomplished stint in the production chair. It’s a pretty much flawless job.
At times the song (and Kwabs) sounds like Seal’s 1990 classic Crazy. But just like Seal Kwabs doesn’t sound like anyone else. As soon as you hear it, you know who is singing. Who else can say that? You could play me a five to ten second clip of Katy, Rita, Ellie, Gaga and I probably wouldn’t be able to say who’s who. In a world of sound a-likes this is the real thing.
Over all this is a very strong single and the future bodes well for Kwabs. His album should be out later in the year and if this is anything to go by we should be in for a treat! The time for praying is over this is the real deal!
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When I hear that a child of someone famous is releasing music I always get a bit worried. Over the years there have been so many cases of sprogs of musicians and sportsmen dabbling with music and the results being, well, not being great. For every Julian Lennon you get a Sean Lennon.
Today’s song is by Taylor McFerrin (son of Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy fame). It is a slice of Future Soul from 2011. Future Soul is a hybrid of hip-hop that uses ambient, jazz, sampled drum beats and electronica.
This song is everything that we’ve come to expect from Steven Ellison’s (AKA Flying Lotus) Brainfeeder label. What I really enjoy about this track is the way he chops up and samples his vocals\beat boxing (as well as instruments).
Taylor is working on his debut album (but there is not release date for it as yet). When it is released I will be one of the first in line to get it!