Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #226 - Bobby Womack, "The Bravest Man in the Universe"

Been waiting a while for this one to be available as well. The lingering after effects of recent collaborations with Damon Albarn and other Gorillaz types can be heard. Or at least, I presume that's what happened; rather than the other way around.

There are blips and some moves from the bar house playbook, but it's mostly a quiet and introspective album. A lot of guilt and forgiveness and reconciliation. The title track has his buttery, warm voice starting lone against a scrape of cello before a very Gorillaz-friendly bassline kicks forcefully in.  His voice on "Dayglo Reflection" contrasts positively with the mournful swoop of Lana del Ray. There's a quote about the perception of the older singer "growing a little deeper": that couldn't be a dig at LDR, could it? There isn't much of a link between the two vocals.

"Deep River" is a stripped down spiritual tune along those Biblical terms that I'll choose to read figuratively and not along Christian terms. Just to amuse myself. There's a slower, churchy (more Anglican pipe organ than Dr King) darkness to "Whatever Happened To The Times" that broadcasts the song out into near space for passing interplanetary craft to cock an ear to. I don't know what "lollipops running through the rain" might refer to, but I'm pretty dense. "Stupid" brings Bobby together with Gil Scott Heron, two recent alumni of XL Recordings' attempts to release almost every kind of music conceivable to modern ears. Two seriously sensitive, grizzled auld cats. Another stripped down backing track, which has a tiny squeak in the loop for some reason.

 "If There Wasn't Something There" conjures up Across 110th Street with its drive and a paranoid splintering right in the heart of it that betrays the smooth strings and assuredness of the lines "If there wasn't something there/You'd have just walked away" and "I've got something/You don't know you want". The seductive patter founders on jangly, frictive undernoises. Self-doubt, the king of all cock-blockers. There is some more positive-minded stuff like "Jubilee" about keeping on "walking on solid ground", back in that Gospel tradition but with a techno stomp adding some further bounce.

Maybe sounds a little undercooked, a little flimsy up against his classics; but there's gristle enough to chew on for a listen or few.

Rating: Reconciliation out of Collaboration

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