Funk

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Emily Ritchie

Awaken, My Love! Child­ish Gam­bino Glass­note Records Don­ald Glover, bet­ter known as Child­ish Gam­bino, is one of the world’s most ver­sa­tile per­form­ers. Not only is Glover an ac­claimed writer, co­me­dian and ac­tor (most re­cently join­ing the Star Wars uni­verse with a role in a new film about Han Solo’s past), but his mu­sic tra­verses myr­iad styles rang­ing from hip-hop and rock to pop and R ’n’ B. It’s as if he doesn’t quite know what he wants Child­ish Gam­bino to be, so he’s giv­ing ev­ery­thing a try. His third al­bum, Awaken, My Love!, is a marathon ex­plo­ration of psy­che­delic soul and spi­ralling funk, hark­ing back to the era of Sly and the Fam­ily Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, Par­lia­ment-Funkadelic and early Prince. This re­lease fea­tures lit­tle of Glover’s trade­mark high-paced rap­ping and in­stead ex­plores a whole new as­pect of his vo­cal abil­ity. Ex­cept on the del­i­cate Stand Tall, Glover rarely sings as we have heard him be­fore. Ei­ther the pitch is lower, the vo­cals are dis­torted and au­to­tuned or his voice gives way to raspy tones that es­ca­late to gut-wrench­ing screams rem­i­nis­cent of James Brown. It’s a well pro­duced, un­pre­dictable de­light. One of the prob­lems with Glover’s pre­vi­ous al­bums was his ca­pac­ity to con­nect emo­tion­ally through his mu­sic. He would ram­ble off lyrics, some that made no sense in the con­text of the song, and al­though au­di­ences would chant along, there was no emo­tional res­o­nance. So it came as a sur­prise when, as first sin­gle Me and Your Mama was re­leased be­fore the al­bum, the soar­ing gospel cho­rus, jazz fu­sion and raw vo­cals of the six-minute epic stirred the emo­tions with ease. Awaken, My Love! does well to bal­ance nos­tal­gic re­vival­ism with con­tem­po­rary in­ven­tion, through con­trast­ing funky fuz­ztone riffs with lyrics about racial di­vi­sions in the US (Boo­gie­man), or em­u­lated vo­cal stylings ac­com­pa­nied by mod­ern in­stru­men­ta­tion ( Ter­ri­fied). Have Some Love is a groovy an­them, Red­bone is a falsetto bal­lad laced with soul, and Zom­bies oozes funk through gooey gui­tar riffs and rich, vi­brato vo­cals. The only dis­ap­point­ment is the sim­plis­tic and catchy Cal­i­for­nia, a La­tinin­spired track on which the use of vocoder is too jar­ring against the lush sound­scapes of the rest of the al­bum. Over­all, this re­lease is a joy to dis­cover and groove to, so even if Glover is yet to fig­ure out what he wants from Child­ish Gam­bino, it’s re­ward­ing lis­ten­ing to him try.

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