Best Albums 2015: D'Angelo and The Vanguard - 'Black Messiah'
Wed, 30 Dec 2015 12:22:56
Though technically released in 2014, D'Angelo's Black Messiah was such a revelation that its cultural ripple effects continue to undulate now and will no doubt keep rolling for years to come. Black Messiah arrived 14 years after the singer's last effort, 2000's Voodoo, a well-received neo-R&B release many had long written off as his last; it would have been 15 were it not for the controversial decisions in the Ferguson and Eric Garner cases, which moved the artist to bump up its release to "say something."
"The one way I do speak out is through music," D'Angelo reportedly told his tour manager, Alan Leeds. "I want to speak out."
Armed with his music, Black Messiah exploded with the effect of a truth bomb. The timing was couldn't have been better; listeners the world over grieved for Michael Brown and Eric Garner, were bewildered by the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and clamored for justice. What the soul man delivered was not only a soundtrack of the time, but something bigger, a fully-realized funk opus that appeared like a light in the darkness, offering a way out.
The loose suite of Spanish guitar, strings, bass, and brass flitted between R&B, jazz, soul, and funk effortlessly; tracks like "Really Love," "Sugah Daddy," and "Betray My Heart" were songs of soulful tenderness; "Charade," "1000 Deaths," and "Till It's Done (Tutu)" were more politically charged. The album's overall tone was righteous, uplifting, and resoundingly genuine, a soulful note in a world full of people struggling to understand one another.
Listen to "Really Love" from D'Angelo and The Vanguard:
—The ARTISTdirect Staff
Buy D'Angelo music on iTunes