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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Gil Scott-Heron


Gil Scott-Heron is completely and totally this week’s Tuesday Is For Tunes artist. I can’t say that I know anyone else’s soul, but if it’s anything like mine, then it will be torn asunder and weep bitter tears all for I’m New Here, the new album from Gil Scott-Heron that released today. I am utterly moved and inspired by this album. At least for now, it’s available to stream in entirety on Gil Scott-Heron’s website, and I pretty sure I’d like to advise you to ignore all my mindless drivel, go listen to the whole album, and form your own opinion. However, if you enjoy my blathering, here we go.

I’m New Here blends spoken word with electronic and folk influences. Perhaps a surprising amalgamation for those not already familiar with his work, yet Gil Scott-Heron’s delivery of gravely, unfathomable vocals unites this album with heartrending poignancy. Every song has some element that takes my breath away, so much so that I find myself moved to do a song-by-song review (minus the interludes for the sake of brevity).

On Coming From A Broken Home (Part 1) describes Scott-Heron’s grandmother with the very characteristics I’ve always hoped to have when I’ve aged with grace: wise, natural, incomparable, and unceasingly giving. Me And The Devil is a definitive track from this album with a music video to match that both captures and augments the foreboding shadows that loom over this song. I’m New Here is intriguingly the most singular song from the album, despite being the title track. It features lyrics reminiscent of folk themes set to some beautiful acoustic guitar. Your Soul And Mine has samples, beats, and a break that put most rap songs to shame. If that wasn’t enough, Scott-Heron spits out a personification of death that will put fear in the staunchest of hearts. I’ll Take Care Of You has an opening so soulful it makes my heart cry out and my body swoon. I’m not the kind of lady that’s looking to be taken care of, no matter how great my heartache, but I would let a man like that sooth me. Where Did The Night Go sounds like the aural embodiment of my insomnia: reverberating, incessant, and unforgiving. He speaks the late night introspective moments that turn over and over in your mind. New York Is Killing Me features some ridiculously sweet handclaps that drive this song, and add a touch of a rural southern sound perfectly fitting to the lyrics that yearn for Tennessee. Running and The Crutch serve up the pure poetry for which Gil Scott-Heron is renowned. I could listen to each track a hundred times, and probably still not fully comprehend the depths of their meaning. Finally, On Coming From A Broken Home (Part 2) brilliantly brings the album full circle to a cohesive, thought provoking conclusion, and stamps it with the unparalleled, personal mark of Gil Scott-Heron.

Gil Scott-Heron’s website provides this free, embeddable widget that allows you to stream I’m New Here as an entire album, so I’m including it. However, if you decide to check it out, you absolutely must take the time to listen to it in its entirety. There are no singles. It is a cohesive work, and should be appreciated accordingly. If you like what you here, buy the album, and appreciate it some more.


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