Album of the week – ‘Emily’s D + Evolution’ by Esperanza Spalding
‘Emily’s D + Evolution’ by Esperanza Spalding is Eastside Radio’s Album of the Week.
If you are looking for an album that is full of creativity, bending the rules and showcasing a nice step forward in jazz fusion, experimental rock and even genres that are hard to define, look no further, as four-time Grammy award winning bassist, composer and vocalist Esperanza Spalding delights us again with her latest record ‘Emily’s D + Evolution’.
In the past, Spalding’s work was definitely grounded within the jazz or blues traditions such as her fourth studio album ‘Radio Music Society’ which picked up a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. This latest release however, also comes a brand new persona and style. The name ‘Emily’ in the title of the album is not just there for any reason, the work throughout the album is brought to you by Spaldings’ inner ego Emily (also her middle name). Like many of the artistic greats out there she uses her creative side as a character to voice her art and Emily is her stage name. By bringing you a different look, a new approach, and a changed style, it makes for some interesting listening. The message (as I understand it) Spalding is trying to send through the character of Emily is to be yourself, step away from the status-quo and search for your spiritual self.
The album starts off with the opener ‘Good Lava’ (also the album’s single) which is quite a rocky sounding tune with lots of funk. The song’s opening line see’s the artist state “See this pretty girl, watch this pretty girl flow,” words that one would assume are coming from the character Emily. The song comes along with a psychedelic rock music video that has some whacky yet creative images, like something that you would have seen in the 70’s. As it’s the first track off the album, and is certainly not the jazz sounds that you have been used to from her previous albums, she’s letting you know that you are in for a ride with lots of funk and fusion.
Working on the album with Esperanza is a band hand selected by the artist herself for the project; collaborator and guitarist Matthew Stevens, Co-Producer and drummer Karriem Riggins and keyboardist Corey King. While Spalding produces some of the work herself she is also joined by legendary producer Tony Visconti who is well known for his work with David Bowie, The Kaiser Chiefs more. Following a four-year creative hiatus since her last album, it’s clear there’s been a lot of thought, talent and experience put into this record.
A track that was debuted last year on ‘The Jimmy Kimmel Show‘ is ‘One’. It starts off quite poetic with a statement about love and romance and then breaks into the electric bass, slightly relaxed with beautiful vocal tones until Stevens then does a short guitar solo and the pace picks up, it then goes to rock tones from somewhere that was near blues, then fades out with just Spalding and her bass. Like that single debuted in front of a TV audience, some of the tracks on the album were recorded in front of a small studio audience in Los Angeles, to enhance that sound of an even more live experience.
Spalding is quoted saying “My hope for this group is to create a world around each song, there are a lot of juicy themes and stories in the music. We will be staging the songs as much as we play them, using characters, video, and the movement of our bodies.” Well that’s certainly what she did with the track ‘I Want It Now’ a cover of Veruca Salt from the famous ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’. It starts off with quite dark tones leaving you wonder where it’s going but then shines through with some great high note vocals that some might say are opera sounding. If Spalding was ever to quit her day job, this performance would be a smash hit on Broadway as it rings musical bells.
Coming near the end of the album Spalding gives a real chanting hit with ‘Funk the Fear’. In the chorus of this track the words ‘funk the fear, live your life’ are ran through, as this’s the core intention that Emily is trying to give off throughout the album. With the hand raising chants Spalding really shows off her inner rock goddess on this one. It’s definitely one that will leave you feeling alive as it’s full of energy and makes you want to witness it in person for an even more intimate experience.
It goes without saying that Esperanza Spalding’s latest work ‘Emily’s D + Evolution’ is not the same music that you would have heard in her previous albums. There’s no need to be disappointed as the creativity and breaking down of barriers that Spalding has done makes for a really compelling listen. Spalding has definitely veered more towards the Rock genre with this one, still with lots of fusion as that’s what she’s all about. With the style of vocals and amount of electric bass and electric guitar throughout the album, it would be hard to say this was a jazz album more than an experimental album. Jazz is the ground which the music has come from but in the ways Spalding can flow in and out of different styles it’s very interesting to hear the deep, emotional and ‘live-freely’ message the artist gives off with this project.
If some of you are lucky enough to be heading to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival Spalding will be performing there on the 3rd of June, if you are not making your way down to the festival then not to worry as she will also be playing at the Sydney Opera House on the 4th of June. For more details click here.
Esperanza Spalding – Vocals and Bass
Matthew Stevens – collaborator and guitarist
Karriem Riggins – Co-Producer/drummer
1. Good Lava
2. Unconditional Love
4. Earth To Heaven
6. Rest In Pleasure
7. Ebony and Ivy
8. Noble Nobles
9. Farewell Dolly
10. Elevate or Operate
11. Funk The Fear
12. I Want It Now
You can follow Esperanza Spalding’s career via her FACEBOOK page, or at esperanzaspalding.com. Be sure to tune in this week to 89.7FM EASTSIDE RADIO for your chance to WIN a copy of ‘Emily’s D + Evolution’ by Esperanza Spalding. For an extended listen to the album, tune in on Thursday from 1.30PM – 2PM for ‘Album of the Week’ with Josh Crosbie. You must be a supporter to win so make sure to sign up at http://eastsidefm.org/support-us-2/. Don’t forget you can also stream the station at WWW.EASTSIDEFM.ORG.