Tag Archives: Aaron Abernathy

Album of the Day: Aaron Abernathy, “Epilogue”

Aaron Abernathy’s latest LP, Epilogue is the last album in a trilogy that began in 2016. The previous installments featured ruminations on love, race, and society through Abernathy’s unique twist on modern soul; Epilogue skews personal, documenting a recent breakup and chronicling the journey to redemption and self-actualization that followed. The album is broken up by snippets of phone conversations about the breakup, using the spoken words to outline the emotional effect while the songs expound on the broader themes.

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The Best Soul on Bandcamp: February 2019

Soul

Rayon Nelson

From Emily King to Frank McComb, this month’s standout soul releases are an invitation to love and and reflect. Soul doesn’t have to be about love, but these albums put a spin on the genre that’s impossible to resist.

Emily King
Scenery

Over three albums and two EPs, New York’s Emily King has become the queen of romance. Her whimsical R&B makes you dream of past loves or finding a new one; her latest release, Scenery, is no different.

Scenery delves elegantly and passionately into the intricacies of love without stumbling into eye-rolling, trite territory. It’s strong from beginning to end, and while everyone will have their favorite tracks, it’s unlikely that you’ll hear one you don’t love. Production, by long-time co-creator Jeremy Most, centers King’s ethereal voice within a unique palette of sounds that sparkles, such as on “Can’t Hold Me” where hints of North African rhythms introduce the empowering song that sees King no longer waiting for a lover who’s repeatedly let her down. Other album standouts include “Forgiveness,” a soft rock meets gospel track with passionate, overwhelming lyrics about unrequited desire. On “2nd Guess,” King’s voice is full of longing and anticipation; midway through, it sounds as if she’s standing under a crescendo of falling stars—perfect for the “we belong together” scene in a rom-com. It’s an intoxicating album that’s sure to be one of 2019’s best.

Blair Leavitt
Unconditionally

Based in New England, Blair Leavitt is a singer’s singer with an impressive octave range and a robust style that impossible to deny. Unconditionally is the second EP put out by the vocalist/sax player in the past two months, and here the listener gets a better sense of the soulful fire she possesses.

From title track “Unconditionally,” Leavitt sings with an urgency that runs throughout the EP. Passion, commitment, and enduring love are exemplified on “Where You Go,” complete with its warm flourishes of a jazzy piano. The moving “Unconditionally II” is an example of how special Leavitt’s sound is when it’s slowed down. The ruminating guitar and drums alongside her gospel-tinged vocals is stunning. This is an artist who shows sparks of being an heir to Teena Marie’s soul legacy. That’s a lofty height but if anyone may have the potential to mirror it, Leavitt could possibly be a prime contender. 

Rayon Nelson
Yung Solo

Rayon Nelson’s voice makes you stand back and exclaim, “wow.” His distinctive tone is rich and emotive with a slight rasp that is simply ear candy. He crafts personal songs that do not try to fit into audience expectations or a particular idea of what “soul” should sound like.

Opener “Memories” is a moving, autobiographical homage to his childhood, but it is his vocals—pure Isley Brothers smoothness—that makes the song so memorable. Another winner is “Thank You,” a song that pays gratitude to a former lover. The track captures the bittersweet experience of celebrating a love affair that is over but has left you better for experiencing it. “Get Up” is a take-no-prisoner, laid-back anthem that shrugs off the idea of perpetual victimhood, as well as the “we are all heroes” cliché that can cheapen such anthems. Yung Solo is a thoughtful and well executed EP by a new, must-hear voice in the soul game.

Acheini
iSHEBA

Acheini

Acheini is a bit of wild card, so prepare for an adventure on her EP, iSHEBA.

ISHEBA moves quickly from one sound to another, starting from opener “Daniel,” which sounds straight out of the 1960s with its plaintive Afrobeat and old-school reggae vibe. “I Imagine,” a contemporary R&B/soul track, has Acheini singing, “Who am I to complain? You were never mine in the first place.” “LoveStrung” is a sweeping, adult contemporary ballad about desperately wanting to love and be loved. “Waiting for You” is a bluesy acoustic track that is stripped of much production, and closer “Walk Away” is simply a sorrowful stunner.

Acheini’s songwriting is solid throughout. Her lyrics are genuine, in the moment, and raw. There is something deeply refreshing about how she puts it all out there.

Aaron Abernathy
Epilogue

Aaron Abernathy

Aaron Abernathy, professionally known as Ab, is adept at delving into the treasure troves of soul, R&B, 1980s Prince, and neo-soul, and drawing out inspiration from less mainstream sounds.

Epilogue marks the final release in the singer/songwriter/producer’s trilogy of albums. The first, Monologue, debuted in 2016, and its follow-up Dialogue in 2017. On Epilogue, Abernathy takes on the massive effort, over 18 tracks, of exploring the many trials and tribulations of romantic relationships. “I wrote this album because too often we move onto the next relationship without working on ourselves,” explains the Washington D.C. musician, “creating a vicious cycle where we continuously walk in relationships unprepared to do our part to create a love that will last.”

The album is written from three perspectives: “HIS” (Abernathy), “HERS” (a woman named Noelle, whose romantic experiences informs particular tracks), and “OURS.” The songs weave between the perspectives, moving from heartbreak to healing. Abernathy’s malleable voice imbues each song with vulnerability and passion, and a good dose of drama. It’s an interesting album by an interesting musician.

Frank McComb
Intimate Time: The Love Collection

Frank McComb’s Intimate Time: The Love Collection is great for those R&B/soul fans who miss the adult contemporary R&B of the mid-’80s and early ‘90s. His is an old-school vibe through and through and he isn’t apologizing for it.

As its title makes clear, the 16-track album is all about candlelight dinners, red roses, and odes to lasting devotion. Its beauty lies in the way that it harkens back to a time in soul when love felt warm and easy. “All my problems ended today / Because your love came and chased them away,” sings McComb on “I’d Be a Fool.” The album is a joyful celebration of love and partnership, and it’s always a good time for that.

-Chaka V. Grier

The Best Soul Albums of 2017

YE-Soul-1244

The year 2017 was a glorious cornucopia for soul music. From songs of empowerment and revival to songs that spoke directly to the social and political struggles of modern-day America, it was a year of thought-provoking, stand-out, new, and new-to-you music. If nothing else, these albums prove that great soul never goes out of style, and it’s never too late to make an impact on the world through song.

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The Best New Soul on Bandcamp: November 2017

Jackie Shane

Jackie Shane. Illustration by Gabriel Alcala.

Each month, Bandcamp brings you the best soul music the site has to offer. Whether it’s poignant social commentary from Aaron Abernathy, or an unearthed gem from Jackie Shane, these selections set a reflective tone for November’s cold nights. Warm blanket and comfort food optional.

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Aaron Abernathy’s Heartfelt Soul is a Family Affair

Aaron Abernathy
Aaron Abernathy. Photo by Jati Lindsay.

Over the past decade, Washington D.C. musician Aaron Abernathy has shored up a rock-solid reputation. “He’s unapologetically funky and unapologetically black,” says Foreign Exchange frontman Phonte Coleman, who appears on Abernathy’s new album, Monologue. “He encapsulates what I consider to be a soul singer—something more rooted in feeling than in technique. He’s a great singer, but the feeling elevates things. His harmonies epitomize soul to me.” MC/producer Black Milk, for whom Abernathy is musical director, touts the singer’s ability as a leader and creative visionary. “I’m always in awe of the way that Ab can arrange a live show,” Milk tells us. “I’ve never seen anybody else with this level of talent. He’s a big reason why my show is on [the] level that it is.”

Then there’s keyboardist Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson, a fellow Midwest native and D.C. area resident (Abernathy is from Cleveland and stayed in the nation’s capital after graduating from Howard University.) To Ferguson, who is also featured on Monologue, Abernathy’s Midwestern roots make up a great deal of his music. “He is extremely driven. Midwestern brothers are very hungry,” Ferguson says. “A lot of musicians from that region get looked over. We’re very competitive, and we have that blue collar spirit.”

We spoke with Abernathy about his long-awaited album, the Abernathy family legacy, and how a Howard University business major ended up working with the likes of the Foreign Exchange and Black Milk.

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