A Better Place is a new jazz album from trumpeter, singer and producer, David Longoria. As the title implies, the release aims to inject a sense of optimism and positivity into what has been considered a rather dreary year for most. This ambitious project manages to lift one’s spirits almost immediately with the opening track, Make The World A Better Place, which already has amassed more than 300,000 plays on Spotify. Backed by exquisite piano (Rique Pantoja), upright bass (Maciej Sadowski), light drums (Tony Jones) and a mellow ambiance, Longoria’s vocals are brimming with hopeful sincerity. He has a classic, personable delivery style that’s reminiscent of the great lounge singers. His voice is delicate and personable yet also bold and reassuring, as he makes a plea for unity and understanding in our world. The song also contains an artfully spectacular trumpet solo, where David offers a glimpse of his true musical power level.
Don’t Let Another Mother Cry is a jazz ballad that touches upon the subject of street violence in the city of Chicago. With vivid expressions of empathy, it’s a heartfelt appeal for us to respect the value of human life. The piano melody has a haunting, Johnny Mathis-like quality to it, while a mournful trumpet intro sets the tone for a sober and fresh idealism. Summertime (a contemporary version of the iconic George Gershwin song) is another notable track, as it features the supremely pristine vocals of neosoul recording artist, Promise Marks. It captures the carefree “summertime” spirit of youth and reminds us to appreciate the joyful possibilities of life that lie ahead, as well as those in the here and now. One of my personal favorite jams on this release is Terra Pax, which has a worldly and avant-garde framework. The introductory atmosphere is almost futuristic, with classic Star Trek-inspired vision for humanity and mother Earth that takes on a jazz form. It’s really quite innovative.
All of the songs on this album are extremely professional. It can be somewhat difficult to review music from artists who are this experienced and whose talents are this refined, because it is almost self-evident how good the music is just by briefly listening to a few snippets. However, it must be stated that this album is laudable not just on a technical level, but it also spiritually therapeutic and emotionally satisfying. In these turbulent times, A Better Place will definitely give you some perspective, calm your immediate anxieties and get you thinking about the world in more optimistic terms.
Polaris is a new single from Puerto Rican singer/rapper, Enyel C. It’s a Lo-Fi trap track with a bright and tropical vibe. Enyel C has an excellent flow. His delivery is casual, yet he has a natural gift for timing. The lyrics are mostly in Spanish and roll beautifully from start to finish. Featuring a sweet summertime melody that goes down like lemonade, Polaris offers a highly enjoyable listening experience.
Thematically, the song deals with someone taking a journey through Puerto Rico, while relaying a story about a relationship with a person who became consumed with material possessions. Enyel C classified the song as a pseudo-romantic track. Released under the La Buena Fortuna Music label, Polaris is available on all major streaming platforms. It’s really a pleasure to listen to.
Fallin’ is a new single from South Carolina-born artist, Shaud (featuring Sean Eversen). The song combines elements of pop and R&B with a touch of hip hop flavor to create a sound that’s both mainstream friendly and sophisticated. The performances are superb, featuring rich harmonies and professional vocals. Seriously, the singing on this track is clean and very high caliber, without a ton of unnecessary processing or “enhancing” effects to get in the way. There’s a lot of emotion packed into the lyrical delivery. You can feel the deep passion and sensitivity in every word.
Despite being vocally driven, the structure and choreography is impressively elaborate. When it kicks into high gear, this jam comes at you like a geometric equation. Something must also be said for the synth-driven backing beat. It’s fairly minimalist at times but also retro-futuristic and gives the song a certain cutting edge vibe that distinguishes it from more traditional R&B. Fallin’ is a supremely romantic song that’s musically flawless and probably deserves to be nominated for an award of some kind.
THE JOKER is a new single from Los Angeles-based musician and actor, KINDNESS (real name August G Russell). The highly anticipated song apparently features hip hop legend, Lil Wayne. There will also be two upcoming videos for this track. One will be animated, and the other a live action vid. Accompanied by an EP, this song has the potential to reach a global audience. Rumor has it that THE JOKER was even submitted for a GRAMMY award, but was not completed/released in time to qualify for consideration.
While KINDNESS may have come from a traditional singing, dancing and acting background, his hip hop songs are surprisingly creative and avant garde, peppered with unique sound samples and an exotic ambiance. His delivery style is artistic and thought provoking, often resembling elaborate performance art or film (perhaps owing to his acting and theatrical experience.) Among his influences, he cites Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Will Smith, Tupac, to name a few. His songs contain a strong narrative component, like short plays. What’s exciting about this THE JOKER is that it will blend KINDNESS’ artful song structure with Lil Wayne’s pop sensibilities and hip hop prowess, offering audiences a glimpse into the best of both worlds.
Son of the Devil is a new single from Mobile, Alabama-born hip hop artist, Popa Tate. This prolific rapper has released an astounding 5 albums in just the last 10 months. Recognizing the importance of learning a trade in today’s world, he also attends school for welding.
The production on this latest track is surprisingly high quality for an indie hip hop jam, featuring a good clean mix that brings out the best sonic frequencies. It’s very professional and instantly commands respect. The backing music consists of lightly dramatic piano/synths and a vigorous beat in the foreground. Structurally complex and musically melodic, it’s a fairly advanced backdrop that Popa Tate has to work with. His delivery is quick-witted and solid. He maintains superb timing even with a fast paced style that comes off as fresh, real and unrehearsed. There’s a genuine passion and charisma in his tone. Perhaps that’s because Popa Tate isn’t just role playing. He’s a rapper that has lived through real experiences, and this is detectable in his vocal performance. Within the track’s 3 minute runtime, he manages to cover an impressive range of emotions, from rage to reflection to sentimentality and beyond. Really though this is just a dynamic and spirited hip hop jam. Great for pool parties and club action or just late night city drives with friends.
That Melody is a music video from artist, singer/songwriter and actual physician, Doc Jazz. The song is actually a re-release of a song from Doc’s 2008 album, inSURGency. I would not have guessed this on my own, since That Melody is every bit as professional and high quality as the artist’s more recent musical output.
Though the track presents as a mellow and soothingly groovy, “Yacht Rock” style jam, this is actually a powerful song about how music can raise your spirits and free you from despair. The timing of this re-release couldn’t be better. In this rather tumultuous and turbulent year, Doc Jazz shows us how taking a break from the dreary news and listening to some music can help bring you that sense of “inner peace.” As the title implies, the right melody can do wonders for your soul and well being.
This inspirational anthem for humanity is bolstered by the fact that there are a plethora of artists credited with contributing to the song (listed below). In addition to the stellar and uplifting vocal harmonies, That Melody features an array of highly impressive instrumentals. These are professional musicians in action, but there’s nothing mechanical about this song. The performances are brimming with positive energy and feel good vibes. That Melody is like a ray of sunshine, guaranteed to brighten your mood. Doc Jazz has done it again.
Doc Jazz: lead vocal, backing vocals, composition, lyrics, arrangement, mixing/engineering
Mella Barnes: backing vocals
Hans Sligter: guitar and backing vocals
Eddie Conard: percussion and backing vocals
Joel Ison: piano and Rhodes
Joost Zoeteman: bass guitar
Wim de Vries: drums
Sunshine is a new single from Chinedu, a Nigeria-born artist who grew up in Chicago and is now based in Los Angeles. This latest song is from his album, Apotheosis. Musically, the track flows at a modest pace, while maintaining a robust beat in the background. It’s a blend of pop and R&B that has a more personal feel than more typical mainstream songs. Symphonic synths and backing vocals create a dramatic, theatrical ambiance. Chinedu’s lyrical delivery is heartfelt and sincere, as he demonstrates a strong “stage presence” in the mix. The song itself deals with a sunshine metaphor as its theme. It involves finding meaning in one’s life and experiencing a kind of rebirth and renewed sense of spirit, after living through a difficult or unfulfilling time. It’s one of those intriguing songs that gets you thinking about the subject matter and really piques your curiosity. I recommend listening to the entire album for the full effect and to gain a broader appreciation for Chinedu’s work. You won’t be disappointed.
Mare Tranquillitatis is a new single from artist, Decoding Jesus. I use the term “single” loosely here, because the track is over 11 minutes long and would more appropriately described as an odyssey. As the title suggests, through its hypnotic, spaced out ambiance, this electronica song offers an escape from the madness of our contemporary world. This music does indeed induce a calming state of tranquility, allowing one to “check out” by gazing into the cosmos and soaking in the ethereal beats. Mare Tranquillitatis has plenty of intensity though. While the atmosphere is often haunting and slightly mysterious (like the moon itself), when the beat kicks into high gear, it’s actually pretty high octane and powerful. There’s some serious dark matter dance energy here.
The sound is largely driven by futuristic synths and haunting background vocalizations. This song strikes me as more spiritual, meditative and entrancing than similar jams in this genre, which often have a “mechanical” or industrial feel. There’s a genuine sense of mystery and wonder here. Mare Tranquillitatis is a standout track, which isn’t surprising since Decoding Jesus is a seasoned professional who has been making dance music for over a decade. It’s a shame we can’t actually escape to the moon, but this kind of musical astral projection is the next best thing.
Just To Be With You is a new single from Saint-Etienne, France-born artist, Aneessa. A highly educated performer who has traveled and lived around the world, Aneessa has an impressively lengthy list of song credits (spanning many genres) to her name. This latest release is a smooth jazz track about interfaith romance and long distance relationships. It emphasizes the lengths two people are willing to go to find common ground and be together when they are in love. Musically, the song is professionally performed, featuring a light beat and delicate saxophone melodies that are rich with sonic detail.
Aneessa is obviously an accomplished, well-trained vocalist, so it’s no surprise that she is able to sing well from a technical standpoint, in a genre like this which has a high degree of technical difficulty. However, she also brings genuine emotion to the table. Her performance is heartfelt, and this is clearly a very personal song for her. While Just To Be With You is a romantic “couples song,” it’s surprisingly peppy and invigorating. The beat has a refreshing bounce it, and you could actually dance to this jam. The song creates an atmosphere that’s positively sparkling. Wonderful.
Death Is Trying is a new single from 14 year old producer, singer/songwriter and rapper, Phoenix FYA. Something of a musical child prodigy, he got his start playing leads in school play productions of The Lion King and Aladdin. He considers himself to be environmentally and socially conscious and a lover of nature.
Musically, he definitely has some skills, which are evident in his latest jam. In fact, I would never have guessed he was only 14 from listening to the recording. It’s very professional, and his performance is surprisingly mature. He has a distinctive vocal style, which combines elements of pop, R&B and hip hop. It’s like if you were to take a classic R&B style singing voice and throw in a bit of Gen Z hip hop flavor. A good singer, Phoenix FYA also shows some dynamic ability as he alternates between narration, rap, etc… all within a single song.
The backing music features some piano to set the appropriate emotional tone of the track and provide some stylish ambiance. There’s also some subtle analog-like tape hiss to give the track an organic, retro vibe. The beat is fresh but light, which is good because the overall music is engaging and hypnotic. Death Is Trying is a sophisticated release in both performance and production. Phoenix FYA has a lot of potential, and I’m sure people will be hearing more about him in the coming years.