Nate Smith: Kinfolk 2: See The Birds (Edition Records, 2021)

November 13, 2021 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nate Smith: Kinfolk 2: See The Birds

Drummer and keyboard player Nate Smith leads an all-star cast on the second LP of a trilogy. Influenced by the entire spectrum of Black music, Smith’s work is heavy on breakbeat-like rhythms, tricky time signatures, rock riffs, and insightful lyrics. Opener “Altitude” is just a calm, welcoming vibe with cool keys, scat vocals, and ear-tickling vibraphones by Joel Ross. Class is in session with “Square Wheel”, a mini-marathon containing rapping, encouraging lyrics, angular rhythms, and boppy sax soloing, then it leads into a brief, tongue-twisting freestyle by emcee Kokayi. The instrumental “Street Lamp” intertwines driving alt-rock with heartfelt soul-jazz. Regina Carter contributes violin to the enchanting “Collision”, and a surprisingly dark, ethereal prelude leads into “Rambo: The Vigilante”, a tense, somewhat difficult, but riveting scorcher featuring Vernon Reid. Amma Whatt sings on the sensuous ballad “I Burn for You”, then Joel Ross and michael Mayo return for the synth-funk groover “See the Birds”. Finally, Brittany Howard guest on “Fly (For Mike)”, a gentle, hopeful ballad which feels like lifting off and floating in the air.

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