The War And Treaty – Hearts Town

 

Title: Hearts Town
Artist: The War And Treaty
Label: Rounder
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release Date: August 14, 2020

 

Named the 2019 Emerging Act of the Year by Americana Music Association, husband and wife duo Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter are artists to watch out for as they continue to take the music world by storm. Between their performance at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards back in January, the release of their newest album Hearts Town in August, and their spot as an opener on John Legend’s upcoming Bigger Love 2020 Tour (rescheduled for 2021), The War And Treaty have proven themselves to be a powerhouse R&B duo.

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James Booker – Classified

 

Title: Classified
Artist: James Booker
Label: Rounder/Craft
Formats: LP
Release date: July 31, 2020

 

As part of Rounder Records’ 50th anniversary celebration, Craft Recordings is offering this remixed and remastered vinyl reissue of Classified, an unjustly overlooked 1982 release by New Orleans keyboardist James Booker, the iconoclastic disciple of the legendary Professor Longhair. On this record Booker performs an eclectic variety of songs, including tunes by R&B legends like Titus Turner, Fats Domino, and Lloyd Price. But he also covers “Hound Dog” (the Leiber & Stoller classic made famous by Big Mama Thornton and later by Elvis), the jazz standard “Angel Eyes,” the 1926 pop standard “Baby Face,” as well as the country classic “King of the Road” and two originals, particularly the scintillating “Three Keys” that concludes the record. Yet in spite of these disparate song sources, it all comes out sounding like Booker thanks to his inimitable musical talent and force of personality.

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Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice – No More Silence, Vol. 2

Title: No More Silence, Vol. 2 
Artist: Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice 
Label: Bandcamp 
Format: Digital 
Release Date: July 3, 2020 

As a part of the city of Austin, Texas’ response to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless black lives lost to police brutality, Austin Musicians for Transformative Justice was founded by Kate Robberson and Ley Line. On No More Silence, Vol. 2, the project brings together over 30 Austin-based artists who use their music to contribute to the conversation around social justice and Black Lives Matter. 

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Billy Ocean – One World

 

Title: One World
Artist: Billy Ocean
Label: Sony  
Formats: CD, Digital   
Release date: September 4, 2020 

 

GRAMMY Award-winning singer Billy Ocean has released his first new original album in ten years. On One World, he reunites with producer Barry Eastmond, who was responsible for some of his biggest hits, including “When the Going Gets Tough” and “Love Zone.” This release follows a spectacular few years for Ocean. In 2018, the Trinidadian-British R&B singer-songwriter was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement in recognition of his international success and the enduring popularity of his music. More recently, he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2020 New Year Honors list for his contributions to music. Additionally, his iconic music videos have all been restored from original tapes and released in HD. All of the excitement surrounding his long due recognition can be felt in One World.

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Brandy – b7

 

Title: b7
Artist: Brandy
Label: eOne
Formats: CD, Digital   
Release date: July 31, 2020 

 

After nearly eight years since her last album, GRAMMY Award-winning singer/songwriter Brandy has released her long awaited seventh studio album, b7. Despite the lengthy period of time between projects, Brandy has consistently been active in the R&B scene, creating tracks like “I Wanna Be Down” and “Ascension,” as well as being featured in a plethora of other artist’s songs and breaking the internet with her recent Brandy vs Monica Verzuz Battle. This exposure has gone a long way toward helping Brandy hone her truly unique sound and style, as well as a high level of production expertise. Her colorful, yet restrained, 15-track project, which she executively produced with assistance from DJ Camper and the late LaShawn Daniels, is truly the culmination of her musical and life experiences to date.

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Adeline – Intérimes

 

Title: Intérimes
Artist: Adeline
Label: Self-released
Formats: Digital  
Release date: July 10, 2020

 

Soulful and sultry vocalist, bassist and producer Adeline has released her highly anticipated sophomore project, Intérimes, a collection of seven songs that incorporates the sounds and styles of R&B, soul and funk. The title of the French-Caribbean artist’s release is a mash-up of the French words “intérim” (the time in between) and “rime” (French for rhyme), noting that each track captures a specific mood as a day turns into night. The project is completely self-produced, allowing Adeline to create music that perfectly complements her style. “Producing my own music is when I feel most complete artistically. Everyone’s process is the best process as long as it’s true to them. Producing is just the way that I love to make music. And the biggest part of it is that it’s fun!”

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Teyana Taylor – The Album

 

Title: The Album
Artist: Teyana Taylor
Label: G.O.O.D. / Def Jam
Formats: Digital  
Release date: June 19, 2020

 

Dancer/choreographer, actress, model, and R&B superstar Teyana Taylor has released her long awaited and highly anticipated third studio album, The Album. With a host of producers, including Taylor herself, this album truly showcases her personality, sexuality and vulnerabilities that lie under her persona. The Album features collaborations from a plethora of artists, such as Rick Ross, Erykah Badu, Quavo, Kehlani, Missy Elliott, Future, Big Sean, Ms. Lauryn Hill, King Combs, Davido, and Taylor’s husband and daughter, Iman Shumpert and Junie.

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Summer 2020 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during June, July and August 2020 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

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Kehlani – It Was Good Until It Wasn’t

 

Title: It Was Good Until It Wasn’t 
Artist: Kehlani  
Label: Atlantic  
Formats: Digital   
Release date: May 8, 2020 

 

Two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated R&B singer Kehlani has released her long-awaited sophomore album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. The former America’s Got Talent star’s debut album, SweetSexySavage, was inspired by TLC’s CrazySexyCool, providing fun, rhythmic, and exuberant sounds Kehlani’s best known for putting out. Kehlani’s new album is much more pared down, expressing slow and sensual narratives, as much indebted to SZA as it is SWV. For this project, Kehlani collaborated with a multitude of guest artists, from the likes of Tory Lanez, Jhené Aiko, Lucky Daye, James Blake, and Masego, all of which do an exceptional job helping to convey her R&B eclecticism—as well as contributions from producers Boi-1da, Andrew “Pop” Wansel, G. Ry, and many more. 

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Moses Sumney – Grae

 

Title: Grae 
Artist: Moses Sumney 
Label: Jagjaguwar  
Formats: CD, LP, Digital   
Release date: May 15, 2020  

 

Singer-songwriter and producer Moses Sumney has dropped his second studio album, Grae, a generous double album released in two parts covering 20 tracks. Back in 2017, Sumney’s previous groundbreaking, genre-less album Aromanticism was well-received, but saw the musician widely labelled as an R&B artist – much to his dismay. He recently said in an interview: “People always look to define you to understand you, but my identity is this kind of patchwork. It’s not something that can be – or that I want to be – defined.” And now with his second project, Sumney places a great emphasis on this message and his artistic vision.  

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May 2020 Black Music Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during May 2020 across multiple genres—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.  

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Lulu Fall – Between Two Worlds

 

Title: Between Two Worlds
Artist: Lulu Fall
Label: Ropeadope
Format: CD, Digital
Release Date: November 8, 2019

 

Lulu Fall isn’t your typical jazz vocalist – she’s a formally trained singer with a hand in musical theatre productions as well as more traditional musical projects. Her identity as the child of Sengalese and Cameroonian parents – and the resulting inner turmoil of not being American enough for her American peers and not African enough for her African family – is evident in her newest album, Between Two Worlds.

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Mary J. Blige – HERstory, Vol. 1

 

Title: HERstory, Vol. 1
Artist: Mary J. Blige
Label: Ume
Formats: CD, 2-LP, 7” vinyl Box Set, Digital
Release date: December 6, 2019

 

Mary J. Blige has gathered 16 hits and rare remixes from the ’90s in HERstory Vol. 1. Highlights include two tracks with Notorious B.I.G – “Real Love” (Hip Hop Mix) and “What’s the 411” (also ft. K-Ci) – and remixes of “Real Love,” “Reminisce” and “Love No Limit” from her 1992 debut album, What’s the 411?. A relatively short but sweet holiday offering that “tells the story of Blige as she first established herself as a tour de force of ‘90s R&B.”