Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Album Review: Keyon Harrold - Foreverland

Keyon Harrold
**** out of *****

The ten tunes on Keyon Harrold's double album Foreverland, gently glide without borders through jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and soul, as the confident artist releases his most self assured record of his career. 

Harrold has collaborated with an impressive collection of A-listers throughout his career (Jay-Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Eminem, Maxwell) and he brings all of those top notch sounds on this lush, relaxed outing. While the album is clearly his creation his supporting players are world class and include, Laura Mvula, Chris Dave, Robert Glasper, Common, PJ Morton, Jean Baylor, and Mayala. Greg Phillinganes on keys, Marcus Gilmore on drums, Nil Felder, Randy Runyon and Justus West on guitar, Burniss Travis and Brandon Owens on bass, BIGYUKI, Shedrick Mitchell and Jahari Stampley on piano/keyboards, and Jahi Sundance on turntables.

The impressive collection of tunes start things off on a high note as the smooth duet "Find Your Peace" opens the album with swirling sounds setting the delicate scene. Common enters with restrained rhymes while Glasper's electro keys dabble around the edges before becoming more central as gorgeous background vocals from Jean Baylor, soar. There seems to be a poised sense of security within Harrold's songs as he deals with romance and many trials, but manages to stay centered, truly himself as his surroundings evolve. 

The percussion, trumpet and laid back easy soul of "Beautiful Day" convinces the listener of the title phrase with repetition and a smooth tone while the title track (featuring Mvula & Dave) seems to be going in the same direction, but uses sneaky tempo shifts to hint at a touch of chaos just behind the soul sounds. The track gets amped by skittering drums, grooves that pop in an out, electric guitar and shifting trumpet work; an engaging journey

"The Intellectual" is a water of life jazz master class as skittering drums and fantastic trumpet work from Harrold make for a dynamite modern jazz listen while the "Well Walk Now (Perseverance)" plays resolute and defiant as the title suggests, with strong trumpet from Harrold and support that floats and accentuates his talents.     

Piano, trap beats/grooves and restrained horn work set the tone for the jazzy R&B of "Don't Lie" which is a showcase for Mayala's vocals and Gilmore's drumming. A mid album break, the interlude of "Paranoid" drips into the jam session sounding, "Gotta Go (Outer Space)" as the deep bass work and fiery trumpet runs are both killer. Piano and more soulful trumpet/vocals move "Pictures" from the dark to the light with soulful stirring.   

The album is restrained, but also illuminating. A major success for Harrold who is gracefully moving into ballad territory and lush sonic soundscapes via flowing rhythms, unique phrasings, comforting sounds and a complete winner of a record with Foreverland

Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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