D’Angelo and The Vanguard is funky, funky, funky. The composition of the music, on Black Messiah, is excellent and that is enough to make the album worth listening to. They knew what it would take to make this album good and they threw in every element that they could.
The star of the show, of course, was D’Angelo and he used his voice as an instrument throughout the entire album, manipulating sounds and hitting all types of notes. He is notorious for his style and his runs within the music, but he was really able to capture the spirit and soul of authentic ‘60s Funk. It was also, at times, very psychedelic.
I would make a comment about the lyrics if I could understand anything he was singing, but that’s not a huge deal breaker. It’s a typical D’Angelo sound, even if it’s a long awaited 15 years later. After the whole mess with Ferguson, his record label hurried him to release the album, because it’s supposedly a politically charged album, but that’s not obvious because you can’t understand a sing word on the CD.
For a while there, D’Angelo’s new album was merely speculation and even the label was unsure of what was happening. In light of all of the protests and rioting, the label was convinced the able would do well now, but the connection here just doesn’t click that well with all of the current events. When you can’t hear the lyrics, how can you decipher a message?
Outside of the overall message, there were some great things going on vocally. Just how a musician would play a string of notes on his instrument, that’s what D’Angelo did for the melodies on the track list. He lined up his voice with the instrumentalists in his band and make some really catchy melodies. Even if you don’t know the words, it’s easy enough to hum or whistle along with most of the tracks.
This outing is very solid for a 15 year wait, so expect a very mature, vintage sound from Black Messiah. In an attempt to save the traditional recording process and true Soul music, D’Angelo successfully put together an album that doesn’t damage his reputation. Especially with all of the help he got from his musician friends. And just like the classics, all of the recording was done on old school tapes.
The band behind him is extremely talented, and not to mention the lyrical help from Q-Tip and the instrumental help from Questlove and the rest of the Roots. It was a fantastic entourage of musical talent.
For those who are interested in the lyrics, don’t worry, because all of the lyrics have been uploaded to his website.
It might not necessarily be a classic, but it’s worth adding to your collection of CDs. Buy it.