It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Gil Scott-Heron, as he’s spent the past few years sorting out personal and legal issues. When you’re dealing with a unique talent like Scott-Heron, though, it’s always worth the wait. The musician’s forays into jazz, blues, r&b, funk, and spoken-word poetry made him one of the most influential pre-hip hop artists. He’s come back with a moving and personal album.
Working with Richard Russell, he’s concocted a type of minimal elctro-blues that allows the weight of his words to really come across. With an opening and closing track that compliment each other and bookend the album, Scott-Heron meditates the meaning of the term ‘broken home,” and wonders how useful the term is over a sample of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights.”
On the title track, a cover of Smog’s “I’m New Here,” we get to see Scott-Heron stripped down to acoustic guitar, as he translates Bill Callahan’s wry sense of humor and deep human observations. On songs like “Me and the Devil,” and “New York is Killing Me,” we get insight into the pain that he’s had to endure, but also a glimpse of his strength, as he’s come out on the other side singing to us now.
In fact, this album is so moving that I usually forget that it actually only clocks in at 28 minutes. Considering how long it had been since his last album of original material, just having a new album is something to celebrate. Having it be this great just makes me grin from ear to ear.
|Title:||Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here|