Album of the Day: Daniel Crawford, “Revolution”

Revolution marks the third and final installment in producer Daniel Crawford’s Matrix-inspired trilogy, which began with 2012’s Red Pill and was followed by The Awakening in 2014. A jazz-soul manifesto akin to the work of Robert Glasper, who fuses jazz, soul, hip-hop, and R&B, Revolution uses each track to spark a conversation around injustice, police brutality, freedom, and love.

That theme is woven throughout the record. Revolution begins with a call-to-action on the Afro-drum-driven opener “Revolution Intruth” (“Those that are not afraid to stand on the frontline and give it their all / Please come forward”); the disquieting neo-soul track “Sirens,” which features a stirring performance by vocalist Jimetta Rose, offers testimony against terror. And because every successful revolution requires clarity of purpose, Crawford asks, “Who are we, and who do we love?” on both “All Comes Down To What (Searching For)” and the poignant tribute to love and family, “13.”

Much of the final half of Revolution moves into instrumental terrain (early track “Kaepin’,” with its woozy trumpet, hints at the warm, powerful strength in the album’s final half). It’s a choice that provides a reprieve of sorts, making space to absorb the searing messages of the album’s first half, while also offering an invitation to turn inward. But even without lyrics, the sense of urgency is undimmed. The driving bass and drums on “Checklist,” the buttery percussion and slinky synth on “March of the Gullah,” and the majestically ominous “Revolution” all work to further the album’s theme of resistance. Ultimately, Revolution is a call to take ownership of our world, and a knowledge that our action—or inaction—can either strengthen or destroy it. As Crawford and Power actor Omari Hardwick state on the album’s eighth track: “Silence is Compliance.”

-Chaka V. Grier

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