03 Oct Midnight Blue – Breathe – Album Review
Midnight.Blue is a new r&b, soul (borderline hiphop) group out of Denver, CO. The players on the record caught our attention and our ears. With Adam Deitch on drums, we assumed it would be funky and well produced. With Eric Benny Bloom (Deitch’s trumpet player in the band Lettuce), vocalists Lyle Divinsky, Halle Tomlinson and G. Finesse and the founders Josh Fairman of Sunsquabi, keyboardist Ian Gilley and guitarist Jay.Greens, the band delivers a high quality album with memorable songs and a good vibe.
Out of the gate, the album opens with “Remember” a slick back beat and a jazzy r&b melody that feels reminiscent of vintage Erykah Badu, which is prevalent in the majority of emerging neo soul artists, and nothing to be ashamed of. The story line of the song and accompanying hold their own. While the song doesn’t reinvent any wheel, it is an enjoyable tune.
“Take The Time”, keeps the album moving with a signature Deitch backbeat and falsetto vocal hook by Divinsky that is well arranged and well executed. While the vocals are more than solid, it’s the repetitive guitar riff that sticks in the mind of the listener more than anything else. Leaves one to wonder if the vocals could have been mixed a bit more to the forefront as the hooks are solid enough to stick.
The album dives into hiphop with “20/20” with the rhymes of G. Finesse. The lyrical content is deep and intriguing and the rhythmic delivery fits well with the flow of the tune. Staying consistent in the backbeat feel as it flows in to “Show You How” and back to the Erykah Badu inspired 70’s vibed “Illumination.” The ulfolding tune picks up into an impressive drum and bass style breakbeat as Eric Benny Bloom is featured in a fiery, new age bitches brew vibed trumpet solo outro.
As the album progresses, there are elements that feel a bit like smooth jazz meets elevator music, which has it’s own charm but does seem unnecessary at times, unless that is the direction the band intends to go. Considering the vocal talent on the project, the album seems to lack many memorable hooks. Ultimately, all of the players and vocalists shine as very talented, but the songwriting leaves room for improvement.
The production of the horn section stands out in the mix throughout the record. At times the accompanying instrumentation are featured and deservedly so, but do at times overshadow the vocal melodies. With that being said, the production value is solid. The use of verb on the vocals and instruments fits the style perfectly. The compression on the drums helped during the drum and bass breakdown and you can tell the engineer knew how to mic and dial in the instruments in recording.
It’s not necessarily a groundbreaking album but it’s thoroughly enjoyable and a consistent vibe from top to bottom that can be a soundtrack for many occasions.
The lyrics are inventive at times and cliché at others, but never really mind blowning. Ultimately, the lyrical work was above average considering economy of scale and relative subjectiveness of the concept of rating lyrics.
The mix is solid and you can tell the engineers knew what they were doing when recording. That said, there are some mixing decisions that take away from the vocals and melody of the tune that seem overlooked rather than intentional. Perhaps it’s a speakers thing, but we did listen through a few different outputs before judging.
Originality: 6/10 – Just because an album isn’t completely original does not mean it is not a great album. This judgement is reserved for the opinion of if the sounds and vibes are instantly recognizable as the artist and can’t be found the same way anywhere else. It’s a tall order to get a 10/10 on this one. For this album, the songs almost always felt like a tribute to another song but different enough that those other songs did not come immediately to mind.
Overall Score: 7/10
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—->Also check out our latest Album Review of Bryan Russel-Lowe’s Circumnavigate.
—->Read Eric Bloom’s Music & Wine pairings for extra fun!