The one-eighty Questlove promised back in 2012, when the drummer and producer persuaded D’Angelo to perform for the first time in a dozen years, turns out to be closer to a ten.
As those who caught later gigs and subsequent uploads could attest, there were no signs that D’Angelo – enigmatic maker of two classics that twisted gospel, soul, funk, and hip-hop with aloof but deep-feeling swagger – was developing his third studio album with production pointers from David Guetta or elocution lessons from Glee’s vocal director.
Instead, he’s made another album that invites comparisons to the purposefully sloppy funk of Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On. It’s more outward-looking, refined, and bristly than what preceded it, however, and has much in common with releases from retro-progressive peers like Van Hunt and Bilal.
D’Angelo retains the rhythmic core that helped him create Voodoo, namely Questlove, bassist Pino Palladino, and trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and adds many players to the mix, including guitarist Jesse Johnson and drummers James Gadson and Chris Dave.
Q-Tip contributed to the writing of two songs, but a greater impact is made by Kendra Foster, who co-wrote the same pair, as well as six additional numbers, and can often be heard in the background.
The societal ruminations within the fiery judder of “1000 Deaths,” the dreamy churn of “The Charade,” and the falsetto blues of “Till It’s Done,” fueled as much by current planetary ills and race relations as the same ones that prompted the works of D’Angelo’s heroes, strike the deepest.
D’Angelo & Band
Saturday, 14th February 2015 | 19:00
Columbiahalle | Columbiadamm 21 | 10965 Berlin/Kreuzberg