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Album Review: Esperanza Spalding – Radio Music Society

3 min read

Radio Music Society is the upcoming studio record for American multi-instrumentalist, Esperanza Spalding. Hailing from Portland, Oregan, the Jazz singer has already wowed audiences the world over and won over critics with her previous releases, Junjo and Esperanza, but it was 2010’s Chamber Music Society that really put the star on the musical map and following the exquisite release the singer bagged herself a Grammy Award at last years ceremony for Best New Artist, beating the likes of Justin Bieber to the crown.

EsperanzaSpaldingRadioMusicWith talent running thick through the American starlets veins we are now offered a follow up to Chamber Music Society. Acting as a kind of sister record rather than a continuation, Radio Music Society takes a slightly different approach to what we already know of Spalding’s work. The star is already a well-schooled hit maker and so it comes as no surprise that the record contains a number of future classics for Spalding. Where Chamber Music Society played out like its titled suggested, Radio Music Society does the same and in place of the strings and, well, chamber music influences, we are offered a record brimming with a unique modernization of the stars Jazz roots.

Tracks like the opening Radio Song display a talent rich musician with a truly stunning set of vocals as she hops through a series of hooks and quick paced verses. It’s a fun opener to the record that is instrumentally overflowing and comes complete with a perfectly executed horn section that helps the singer bounce through the track and a fantastically intricate piano solo nearing the end of the track. The singer says it all in the lyrics, “this song’s the one”, and we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Cinnamon Tree is another beautifully composed early addition that opens with a chilling string section while a soothing guitar whirls through a structure of laid back keys and the singers whimsical vocal crooning.

Black Gold is an optimistic highlight with a powerful message. Right from the opening lyrics of “hold your head as high as you can” the track takes you through a semi-anthemic statement of pride and self respect, aimed primarily at the African-American community, while the lengthy Endangered Species unleashes a bass-heavy and vocally peaking highlight with some strong seventies influences dotted throughout the number. Spalding is put through her paces as the number sounds like the most vocally challenging on the record as she swings from dipping lows through to some impressive highs in a skip and a jump while making it sound completely effortless along the way.

As Radio Music Society gradually draws to a close the afro-haired songstress pays homage to her hometown of Portland on City of Roses, one of the closing highlights on the record. Like each of the albums tracks what we love about this track is not just what is on the forefront of the track but everything that’s going on in the background. Without sounding overcrowded the musician welcomes a beautiful collision of instrumentation that keeps you going back to a new listening experience each time.

There is so much good in Radio Music Society that it is difficult to pin down a defining moment within its track-listing. The tone of the record is kept fairly low key but 9 times out of 10 that is what makes for fantastic Jazz listening and Radio Music Society is certainly a record that prolongs its listening pleasure.

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