A deeper level of brilliant.Label: Domino
Released: July 1st 2016
Not content with just being one of the best-connected men in pop, Dev Hynes is serious about establishing his own musical legacy. He struck gold with 2013’s second Blood Orange album ‘Cupid Deluxe’ but follow up ‘Freetown Sound’ is an altogether more expansive, intimate and personal work that sees Hynes try to make his definitive life’s work.
The album is a record aware of its own importance. Hynes has put everything into the 17 tracks here and his soul bearing, heart felt honesty gives the music a keening, plaintive quality that is both endearing and compelling. You want to hear what he’s got to say and the fact it’s set against wonderfully smooth luxurious soul and funk jams is a bonus.
The songs here tell the story of Hynes well travelled life as a black man and the experiences he has faced. It deals in big themes and big issues and as such Hynes appropriately steps up his game as a songwriter and lyricist, particularly on the deeply affecting ‘Hands Up’ and the inspiring ‘But You’ which features the key lyric: “You were special in your own way” a line that could perfectly sum up Hynes’ recording career.
Musically, the album is lush and pristinely polished. Hynes’ vocal is pushed front and centre and the quality of his voice is on a level he’s never previously reached. From Michael Jackson like vocal tics on the clipped, sparse funk of ‘Chance’ to soulful crooning on closing ballad ‘Better Numb’ Hynes can do it all.
There might not be as many dance floor fillers or solid gold bangers here but this is not an album of quick thrills. It develops at its own pace and offers you into its own world. It’s always been easy to be impressed by Hynes work on a superficial level but this is something deeper, Hynes offers up everything about himself and his personal and political views, which makes this the first Blood Orange album that is essential listening. Martyn Young