A singular artist returns with an impressive LP for Flying Lotus's label.
From the opening claps and chants of "I.O.T.A. (Instrument Of The Ancestors)" to the brief vibraphone shuffle of "Ciao," Muldrow's latest LP, Overload, is stuffed with sounds and textures. It's as though she's attempting to fit three years' worth of ideas into an hour, a notion that makes her a perfect fit for Brainfeeder, a label whose music often feels as crammed as it is alive. The album's demonstration of her talents as a singer and lyricist instantly makes her one of Brainfeeder's most vital artists—so much so that label boss Flying Lotus's presence as an executive producer is hard to discern. Muldrow hardly needs the help.
She wears her mastery loosely, and moves across styles with a swagger. On "Vital Transformation," she wraps her voice up in a keyboard progression, as warm as a mink stole, while a skittering hi-hat nips at her heels. "Save your whistles and bells, I have no time for that / I'm only trying to free my mind," she sings, before declaring, "We're all meant to be transformed." The stringy golden AOR tones of the all-too-brief "Williehook (Skit)" make a case for Muldrow as heir apparent to the soul legend Mavis Staples, while on "Canadian Hillbilly," she curls up to a frosty OVO Sound-esque beat and draws a little heat out of it, dropping her voice into a throaty coo.
Overload is suffused with love: love for self, love for community, and especially love for Muldrow's longtime creative and romantic partner, the rapper Dudley Perkins. Nowhere is this more evident than on the sumptuous title track, built around a dizzy calliope riff that she dedicates not only to the object of her affection, but to her own ability to love so powerfully for such a long time. ("I've built this lifetime trust up in you," she sings.) Over the Dixieland swing of "These Are The Things I Really Like About You," Perkins compliments her granny sweater and inner beauty before saying he'll "sip you like a biscuit" and calling her the "best bird I ever ate." It's an unusual way to talk about your beloved, but then again, with its deep idiosyncrasies and unflagging generosity, Overload suggests that the longer and stronger love grows, the stranger it becomes. It's a perfect reintroduction to Muldrow.
Fri / 23 Nov 2018
Marty Sartini Garner
01. I.O.T.A. (Instrument Of The Ancestors)
02. Play It Up
05. Williehook (Skit)
07. Vital Transformation
08. You Can Always Count On Me feat. Shana Jenson
09. These Are The Things I Really Like About You feat. Dudley Perkins
10. Canadian Hillbilly
11. Conmigo (Reprise)
12. Bobbie's Dittie