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himself a much wider (but still tasteful) fan base. this said, Kiss Each other Clean, manages to have many distinct sounds between its ten tracks, from minimally-repetitive slow-burners and early 70’s folk pop to odd electronic hybrid pieces and funkier up-tempo rock, all arranged in such a way as to keep any one style from getting old. in fact, the most obvious stylistic omission from the album is that of beam’s standard acoustic ballad, which here is represented only by the poignant “godless brother in Love,” with even this incarnation of his established style showing signs of evolution, featuring the addition of a piano and one-man choir along with the expected constant acoustic guitar plucking, all with a noticeably higher grade of studio production. While the 70’s folk pop tunes do show a marked change for beam’s output, more interesting (with regards to instrumental texture) are the more experimental pieces, best represented by the drum machine-driven and slinky “Monkeys uptown” and the eclectically odd “rabbit Will run.” Lyrically though, the album’s highlights are the repetitive bookends “Walking Far From home” and the two-parter “your Fake name is good Enough For Me,” both of which feature a slowly-evolving sound world where vocal ostinatos force the lyrics into the spotlight, giving beam’s creative verses a chance to truly shine with their many images so unique and descript as to nearly force the listener to take beam’s fantastical trip with him. Clearly, iron & Wine’s new effort has very little in common with his earlier work, and as such, longtime fans who aren’t quite ready for such a diverse and experimental album might fail to warm to Kiss Each other Clean, but for the rest of us, this is truly a magnificent achievement, offering both lyrical and musical depth yet simultaneously pushing the current indie folk trend forward with its sensible marriage of retro and modern technology and instrumentation. the only question that remains is whether beam will continue this unique musical journey through history with his next record or simply return to his roots, possibly for fear of losing touch with his base.

sPIn thIs! “Walking Far From home,” “godless brother in Love,” “your Fake name is good Enough For Me”

JILL sCOtt the Light Of the sun (Warner Bros.)

on the indie soul label of hidden beach, Jill scott rose to r&b fame as an unapologetic neo-soul princess, gifted with sharp poetry skills and a wit for sensual and self-empowering lyrics. now she’s spreading her wings for bigger ambitions and a greater chunk of popularity with her inked deal with Warner bros. and makes a few changes in the process on the Light of the sun, her first LP with Warner bros. Jill scott fans will greatly appreciate the familiarities of ole. she approaches “so in Love” like a connect-thedots replica of “golden” but it luckily survives those easy comparisons with its Philly disco beats and with her guest anthony hamilton utilizing his al green crooning. but she breaks her familiar conventions by allowing Eve to carry the burden of the hip-hopspiked “shame” and further allowing golden rap beatboxing from doug E. Fresh on “all Cried out redux.” but she bounces back into her dreamy r&b when the exhaustive nine-minute “Le booM Vent

suite” actually splits itself into two segments; the first sounding like a potential “ba-da-baa-baa” Mcdonald’s jingle and the other sliding into Erykah badu balladry. “so gone [What My Mind says]” sways with the bedroom glamour of raheem deVaughn’s “you” while Paul Wall turns the heat up several notches. it seems as if the edgier beats have taken control of scott’s musical direction until she treks back to her iylana Vazant soul searching (“hear My Call,” “When i Wake up,” “Womanifesto”) on the second half. For the most part, the album title feels as if its misleading. the journey points to the light of the sun…and the moon. While scott beams with the seriousness of a mainstream r&b act on the front end, she walks back into the comforts of her easy-listening, late-night r&b on the next half. only thing seriously summery on the Light of the sun is the hazy, steamy spike Lee ‘Mo’ better’ blues of “rolling hills,” where scott lets loose a very humid, 100 ° ballad using the same ingredients of d’angelo’s “brown sugar.” J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “Man in Motion,” “river’s gonna rise,” “Every day Will be Like a holiday”

LedIsI Pieces of Me (Verve Forecast)

With a voice as big and eccentric as Chaka and with three albums under her arms, oakland singer Ledisi young is still considered an underground r&b girl wonder. she should be the next best thing since Mary J. blige, but hit songs aren’t available to her as they should be, as if she’s not hip to being cool. rather than going for explosive Whitney-esque material or big ballads with substance, she normally opts for smooth, underdeveloped inspirational numbers. Certainly her aspirations may lead her to an eventual full-length gospel album, where she feels most at home as proven on her holiday LP it’s Christmas, but Verve is still giving her a chance to become as competitive and enormous as Keyshia Cole or Jennifer hudson. one thing’s for certain, Pieces of Me, Ledisi’s fourth Verve release, is a long way’s from her debut and a major improvement over her disappointing third record turn Me Loose. she comforts more of her more intimate, romantic side on juicy slow jams like the delicious standout “so into you” and the Jaheimsupported “stay together.” Ledisi sweats her hardest on slow-burning blues ballads like “hate Me,” where she eats the song up like a stax-seasoned steak cooked by Leela James. While being suspended in midair with a familiar Patti Labelle melody, the album’s title cut allows us a quick close-up of transparency of Ledisi’s insecurities and inner struggles. but with an album title alluring the ear’s into her most intimate and private matters to the effect of usher’s Confessions, Pieces of Me is overly decorated with Ledisi’s aspiring dreams of being a gospel singer. sure she’s jazzy in an Ella kind of way and heavy with aretha dramatics, but her love for inspirational ditties and hallmark movie anthems seems to get in the way of what was originally meant to be a personal album. “shine” uses a blend of old-school r&b and Karen Clark-sheard urban gospel, along with the mystery of bebe & CeCe Winans’ crossover ambiguity. “raise up,” using a gutsier roots-sounding instrumentation, follows in the same path. the Mary Jsounding “bravo,” possibly the album’s next single, is another obvious


HiFi Magazine #2 (Aug/Sept 2011)  
HiFi Magazine #2 (Aug/Sept 2011)  

HIFI Magazine is the new, official resource for the avid music lover. From rock to pop, R&B to hip-hop, HIFI Magazine strives to incorporate...