Album Reviews

Taylor McFerrin – Early Riser – Ninja Tunes – Album Review

Taylor McFerrin Early Riser

The first couple of tracks on Early Riser just slip past, but I think that’s what they’re meant to do. It’s an introduction to the sound, it gives you a sense of location and grounding for the rest of the album. The first song that lifts off is the single ‘Antidote’, which features Nai Palm, and it’s quite special. A wonderful rippling bass line and the type of simple groove that could end up on the airwaves, and would hold any listeners attention. Florasia is a slow moving R&B track, with nice tinkling electronic sounds giving life to something that would have otherwise been mundane. There are many instrumental or almost instrumental tracks on the albums, and a good scattering of guest vocals including Robert Glasper, Thundercat, Emily King and his father, Bobby McFerrin.

There are many instruments involved, and often guitar or piano are at the base of what he does, but there are many electrical or synthetic sounds that are developed, which add complexity. I guess the label that this is released on rarely do things the easy way, and that’s what gives them an edge.

The production carries through the album, and while there is a lot of different directions, it provides the glue that holds it all together. There is a hint of invention about this album, like he’s not prepared to make things easy for himself, or recreate something that’s been done before. This is what differentiates this from the pack, and while the variety of sounds and ideas don’t always hold together, when they do, they’re quite special. It’s an album that will broaden the horizons of many who listen to it, as it slips easily between genres and moves people outside their comfort zones, and for me that’s always a good thing!

Early Riser by Taylor McFerrin is released on 2-06-14 on Ninja Tunes


1.  Postpartum
2.  Degrees of Light
3.  The Antidote (Featuring Nai Palm)
4.  Florasia
5.  4 am
6.  Stepps
7.  Already There (Featuring Robert Glasper and Thundercat)
8.  Decisions (Featuring Emily King)
9.  Blind Aesthetics
10. Place in My Heart (Featuring RYAT)
11. Invisible/Visible (Featuring Bobby McFerrin and Cesar Camargo Mariano)

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