"King's Ballad" by Georgia Anne Muldrow

Georgia Anne Muldrow
King's Ballad

Ubiquity Records
2010

Review

I remarked in my review of Georgia Anne Muldrow's last album that it seemed that the beats went one way and Georgia went another. I loved it. On this latest outing, we find Georgia more concerned with straight up hooks and melodies that complement each other as opposed to some crazy experimental stuff (with one awesome exception). Whereas the "Olesi" felt more like a Hip-Hop record to me, this one is more of a straightforward Soul music record, and a good one at that.

Bombs blast, the commentaries are too few
Most of the world ain't worries about a club to go to
Make it easy going, get your feel good right
Executives don't want to hear about no African's plight

-Georgia Anne Muldrow, "Thrones"

For me, the preceding quote really sums up the appeal of this album for me. Georgia is back and she wants to make a great Soul music album. At least that's how it seemed to me. Lyrically, all the songs on the album are upbeat. Topics range from raising strong children, finding love in the summer, making your dreams come true, staying true to yourself, and an ode to a lost legend. The production here is less "underground Hip-Hop" and more "alternative Soul music". The vocals are still Georgia being Georgia (meaning sometimes she sounds a bit crazy) but a bit more focused on working with the tracks as opposed to working against them. A good example of this is the opener, "Indeed" where you can still recognize her distinct voice, but it just seems so much more melodic than before. I was a fan of the sort of dissonance that was there before, but I also loved the breezy feeling she gives the track. Another example of this is "Live". The beat is infectious and mellow and driving all at once. Georgia has never sounded better to me as I'm not sure that I've ever heard her sound so smooth.

I loved the positivity evident throughout and my favorite example of this is from the previously mentioned "Live". These lyrics serve as a reminder that Georgia can hold it down from an MC point of view as well.

If it makes you tired thinking about another day
Maybe you should try to find a different kind of way
Straight up alternate, meditate your spirit straight
Don't have time to wait, why would you ever hesitate?
No, it's not too late you've got the things that make you great
When you was born from your mama's womb you had no mistakes
You did not procrastinate to breathe

The title "King's Ballad" comes from a track on the album that serves as a very sincere tribute to Michael Jackson
(RIP). It seemed a little strange at first (if not a bit timely) that there was a song such as the one, just in general. However, as a Michael Jackson fan, I found it to be moving. Personally, it's the sincerity that keeps it from being a bit cheesy, although, on paper, it can seem so because you can't hear the emotion going into the words. For example:

People tried to moonwalk, but nobody does it like the king.
We love you Michael
We needed you Michael

Georgia's tracks here with Dudley Perkins really demonstrate to me that Dudley and Georgia need to put out a complete album of tracks together because their chemistry is amazing! On "Summer Love" they sound lovely together in this Indy-Hip-Hop/Soul summer anthem. This is not the strongest song that features them together, but it is catchy, and just fresh. It makes you smile. It made me wish I had an old-convertible and good weather to cruise near sundown while bumping this through the speakers. Adding MED to the mix gives it a nice bit of polish. The strongest argument in favor of a Dudley/Georgia album comes in the form of "To The Stage". This track is has an amazing piano driven beat that hits the sweet spot between hip-hop and soul music. Dudley sounds incredible and Georgia's singing gives the chorus just the right touches. It reminds me of good 90's soul/hip-hop crossovers. More a Dudley Perkins solo joint than a Georgia featuring Dudley one.

By far my favorite song on the album is one that people are likely to consider me crazy for being such a fan of. The song I'm referring to is "Thatch" and I think that this song is freaking brilliant. Seriously, it's got the craziest excuse for a beat that I've heard in a long time (well, since El-P's work with Handsome Boy Modeling School). It doesn't really seem like it's going to come together in any melodic sort of way. But Georgia's voice keeps it together and makes it sound incredibly fresh. Like this could really work! It takes a second or two for your mind to adapt to what you are hearing. This song is like (if you can allow me to mix metaphors for a second) those 3D images that you have to turn cross-eyed before you can see. Only here, when you finally see the picture it's actually worth the mental strain that went into seeing it. You'll be singing this, I guarantee it.

If you are looking for a solid Soul music record with an independent sort of feel to it and that incorporates some Hip-Hop elements that have an overall positive and uplifting message, then I think this is for you. It isn't as experimental as some of her other releases (where Hip-Hop heads might be looking for the instrumental), but I think as a pure-Soul record is quite good.

4.200 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Indeed (03:39) 5
2. Doobie Down (03:55) 4
3. Simple Advice (02:44) 3
4. King's Ballad (03:45) 4
5. R.I.P. (00:38)
6. Thrones (03:20) 4
7. Summer Love (03:49) 4
8. Shang-A-Lang (00:58)
9. The Ooh Wee Show (00:22) 3
10. Can't Stand Yo Love (02:35) 5
11. To the Stage (05:51)
12. March for Africa (01:29)
13. Chocolate Reign (01:01)
14. Baby Dee (00:40)
15. Live (05:17) 5
16. Room Punk (00:45)
17. Thatch (03:58) 5
18. Industrial Bap (02:26)
19. Morena Del Ray (01:59)