This past weekend I had a life changing experience. I went to the Java Jazz Festival for the whole weekend and saw a host of artists who’ve changed my thinking about making music (as you can probably tell from my post about Vocal Effects), and one of these artists was Erykah Badu. Before I go any further I need to state first that I haven’t completely done my homework — I haven’t listened to the whole album, but I have listened to half of it and will finish listening during album club. So this is Erykah…
Photo by Soulfull
Judging from her concert, she is a musician’s musician — not ‘just a singer’ (her drum machine solo in one of the songs was particularly clever). There is careful planning in every track she sings in concert and on CD. There seems to be really clear thinking about the timbres/ colours of instruments she chooses, and to keep some tracks very sparse so that your ear can listen to each part. One example I’m thinking of in particular is ‘Otherside of the Game’, with two electric pianos of some form or other, muted trumpet, drum kit (with a focus on the snare and hi-hat), her voice and background vocals. The muted trumpet is used sparingly, and most of the sound is the piano/ organ sound playing chords and the kit. She clearly has great control over her voice, but she doesn’t show off, saving simple embellishments for the very ends of phrases. And live is an even more intimate and amazing experience. Her singing never falters and the music gently nudges you into a groove that is perfectly mixed.
So the final verdict on Baduizm from me- definitely give it a listen, but if you can, go and see some live music out there! Badu live is definitely something to write home about.