Song Of The Year-Unconditional Love by Esperanza Spalding
Of all the potential large scale album productions we’ve seen from huge names across many genres only two 2016 albums resonate with me this year. Flatbush Zombies released the brilliant 3001: A Laced Odyssey with brazen insane verses, lots of interesting subject matter, and groundbreaking intelligent production. The other album I can’t get away from is Emily’s D+Evolution. I always thought of Esperanza Spalding as one of the clever types trying to take jazz and make it soul so she could be a real center-stage star(great bass player). Like everyone else I have more thoughts than knowledge to support them so she sunk my preconceptions on her new album.
The common ground between 3001 and Emily’s D+Evolution is both albums did what they wanted to do without feeling at all crowd-sourced or put together in the spirit of a bitching marketing campaign. Elevate or Operate is an insane song where she turns carnival music into brain warping melody and engaging lyricism. Her voice proudly carries Joni Mitchell in it, triggering that feeling of hearing how utterly different Joni was from anyone else.
Emily’s D+Evolution is still boldly jazz fusion but soul as well, folk in its determination and pop in the best sense of it. When it came out Prince hadn’t died yet but it made me think of him in its expanse of what it achieves and the confidence it maintains all the way through. It provides the best platform for her staggering talent. She could have made an album of cool dope funk tunes like Funk The Fear but Unconditional Love has that stop-what-your-doing vocal permanence to it. Just a simple lush loving song that lifts you whenever you hear it and Spalding could have cranked out a project of this kind of song; I would have supported that. Instead, she moved on to the next one and made it however she wanted and did it so well that she forced me to walk behind her on the journey. That’s always my best case scenario. I don’t want to make taste for anyone I just want ride with a confident driver.