Sunday, July 03, 2016
Album Review :: Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
June 28 2016 (Domino)
Words: Alison Mack
Though there may be a taughtness running through Devonté Hynes’ - the Ilford, UK lad who decamped to NYC and turned into Blood Orange - new album that weaves mracial, sexual and political tension, this follow-up to 'Coastal Grooves' (2011) and 'Cupid Deluxe' (2013) may be full of funk and R&B, snd acquired the likes of Debbie Harry, Carly Rae Jepsen and Nelly Furtado to help out, but at an hour in length and 17 tracks, there is also over-indulgent ambition.
But in and around that, this sprawling, self-produced record - taking its name from his father’s Sierra Leone birthplace where Hynes ultimately feels his roots are - fields tracks like ‘Sandra’s Smile’, written after the controversial death of the Black Lives Matter activist Sandra Bland.
With its themes of forgiveness and black Christianity, the smoothly defined, R&B textured 'But You' stands out, along with the stirring 'Augustine' where he draws parallels between Saint Augustine’s conversion to Christianity and America: “Tell me, did you lose your son?/Tell me, did you lose your love?/Cry and burst my deafness, while Trayvon falls asleep,” he sings over a sharply yearning beat spliced with muted synths, as he references Trayvon Martin. ‘Love Ya’, meanwhile, which pairs twinkling electronics with a duelling sax solo carries the production values that Hynes has become associated with. But ultimately, ‘Freetown Sound’ is a bold, if somewhat sombre and uncompromising work.