Esperanza Spalding - 2016
The shift in direction that Esperanza Spalding took from 2010’s altogether disappointing, Chamber Music Society to Emily’s D+Evolution is seismic in every way possible. Although harmonies and melodies still very much rooted in her jazz foundation, what we have here are thirteen original songs (coming in at under an hour ←-always a good sign), that run the gamut from Prince-like funk (“Good Lava,” “Elevate or Operate,” “Funk the Fear”), soul (“Unconditional Love,” “Rest In Pleasure”), Jamiroquai-styled pop (“Judas”), Joni Mitchell meets a subdued Metallica (“Earth to Heaven,” “One”), Jaco Pastorius influenced (“Farewell Dolly”), and includes a wonderful cover of I Want It Now from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; in short, music more so accessible for the masses to sink their teeth into. It’s certainly not a pop album by any stretch of the imagination, but if there was such a genre as Jazz-Pop, then this would undoubtedly fall into that category. All but one song falls in the 3-4 minute range and are made up of either 2 or 3 parts (which though not always entirely simplistic in their nature, are easy enough to wrap your head around).
There’s a backstory to the album about Emily being her alter-ego, but there doesn’t seem anything conceptual in regards to how the songs line-up with one another. It’s just incredibly clever music that shows of her brilliance in a multitude of genres, all of which are primarily jazz in harmony and pop in simplicity.
Andrew Scott ranks this as the
#3 favorite album of 2016