Title: Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts
Artist: Tenesha The Wordsmith
Label: On the Corner
Formats: CD, LP, and Digital
Release date: August 30, 2019
First coming on to the scene as a guest on the title track of DJ Khalad’s 2018 On The Corner release, Black Noise 2084, Tenesha The Wordsmith has delivered a timely yet timeless solo album with Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts. Blending and bending genres, Tenesha holds true to her name, wordsmithing to weave narratives together, painting a new reality in the process. This album withholds nothing, deftly balancing social commentary, and critiques, with narrative. There is also a clear through-line of hope. Though many of the narratives included within this album are considered personal, they are framed such that they transcend the individual to become the collective, as exemplified in the track, ‘The Collection.” The pieces that bookend the album, “Dangerous Women” and “I Dream So Loud,” are poetry as prayer; they are invocation, they are inspiration, they are aspiration.
Tenesha The Wordsmith hails from Oakland, CA, and Peacocks & Other Savage Beasts holds true to the rich literary and musical traditions birthed from that area. Being multi-dimensional, the album is simultaneously able to exist in multiple realms while still grounding itself firmly in its uniqueness. There is also a tangible Ancestral presence that allows the listener to simultaneously be in dialogue with their past, present, and future selves. The nine tracks are revolutionary, poetic, lyrical, and on the pulse of a musical tradition that has faded from the public eye, until now. The instrumentation, as varied as the subject matter, is perfectly aligned as it reaches across the musical aisle and through the archives to bring to the forefront a unique mix of African instruments, electronic dance music, and jazz elements. A modern-day griot, Tenesha The Wordsmith highlights for listeners that there are multiple ways of telling the story.
Reviewed by Just Duléa