Gil Scott-Heron
I'm New Here


3.5
great

Review

by clavichordwolf USER (4 Reviews)
March 5th, 2010 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "I'm New Here" isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an excellent artistic revival all the same.

I'm always a little weary of comeback albums. Even if the music is good--great even--it's usually packaged with so much hype, gimmickry and bullshit that they completely overshadow the final product. For that reason alone I was hesitant to pick up I'm New Here, the first album in fifteen years from singer/poet Gil Scott-Heron. It's received several glowing reviews since its release last February, but it seemed like a lot of people were praising it because they were supposed to, rather than the music actually being any good. Revered musical pioneer hooks up with a cutting edge label (XL Recordings--head honcho Richard Russell also produces the album), works contemporary influences into his sound (gothic electronica ala Burial and Massive Attack) and composes a set of weathered songs about aging, death and despair. Who the fuck is going to pan that?

Plus, if you examine the album structurally, it really shouldn't work. Containing four "proper" songs (three of them covers), six poems and five anecdotal interludes, I'm New Here is constructed like a bad posthumous compilation. Yet after listening to it several times, I've realized that this album really is as good as people have been making it out to be. Make no mistake, it's a fucking mess, but somehow, that actually works to the album's advantage. I'm New Here plays out like a rough self-portrait--the only thing I can really compare it to is Tom Waits's "Bastards" disc from the Orphans set. It isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an excellent artistic revival all the same.

I guess if you've crossed the threshold of middle-age, and have spent the last several years of your life drugged up or incarcerated, you do a lot of thinking about death. It's a popular theme on this album, as is the strain of a haggard life. Robert Johnson's “Me & The Devil” was tortured enough to begin with, but Scott-Heron's exhausted croak and Russell's skeletal production make it into a full-blown funeral procession. Similarly, Brook Benton/Bobby Bland's “I'll Take Care of You” transmutes into a desperate romantic plea, with Scott-Heron growling out the lyrics over icy pianos and a faint string section. The spoken-word tracks “Running” and “Your Soul & Mine” both talk about the impermanence of everything, and how everything you run away from catches up with you eventually, again, feeding into the theme of death. Most of this album is somewhere between Massive Attack and Coil, and even the hand claps on “New York Is Killing Me” have been processed and fed through a machine. Needless to say, this isn't exactly easy listening.

Still, I'm New Here isn't all about doom and despair. The album is bookended by the two-part quasi-poem “Coming from a Broken Home,” which has Scott-Heron giving thanks to his grandmother for all the years she took care of him (over the string section from Kanye West's “Flashing Lights”), and the folkish title track features the refrain “No matter how far on you've gone / you can always turn around.” And even if they seem inconsequential, the interludes provide some of the most revealing and even humorous moments of the album. On “Being Blessed,” he says with a self-depreciating laugh:

“If you gotta pay for things that you've done wrong...I've got a big bill coming at the end of the day.”

For better or worse, I'm New Here is about how Gil Scott-Heron has gotten to the point in his life he's at right now, without resorting to cloying self-pity or blubbering apologies. Here's hoping that he keeps up this momentum his next go around.


user ratings (66)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
AggravatedYeti
March 6th 2010


7685 Comments


this album was underwhelming, but still quite good.

review is tight tho, nice first.

AtavanHalen
March 6th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great first, album is incredible

clavichordwolf
March 6th 2010


11 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks guys. I've got a little experience, but this site's kind of different from what I'm used to, so I appreciate the feedback.

ECRbubs
March 6th 2010


687 Comments


yeah I really couldn't get into this as much as most reviewers. nice first review, pos'd

Andre3000
April 5th 2010


62 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

brilliant review
i do think the album deserves a 4 at least, but hey...

lobby
April 7th 2010


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this album started off good, then digressed.

HeavyB
April 10th 2010


177 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great to see you give a respected veteran some shine. The Robert Johnson cover is amazing. It takes a true master to own an old standard of that quality.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
May 27th 2011


15070 Comments


this dude just died. fucking sucks

Ire
May 27th 2011


41822 Comments


oh fuck : (

wyankeif1337
May 27th 2011


6739 Comments


motherfucker, saw on facebook...

Manic_
May 27th 2011


447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

RIP

greygray
July 9th 2011


2 Comments


Anyone who has done crack knows this was the crack talkin
I love the prophet with all my heart and soul and his life post '81 is nothing moe thn i n i teach n moan ment.

This is crap the prophet in his focus would neva even belch such utterances, yet from the shadow of a doublebarrell at the audibon he manage to eck out warnings.

Who introduced the prophet to his demise? Musta bn sum1 he highly respected and and admired sum one of wilbon, barkely, Xpire. sum one who felt spared and obligated to knock the spirited on from his square.

Sum 1 co-operated with the mayhem in Memphis just like sum 1 pull the trigger at the audibon. desperation buys easy participates to purse string feed menu.

However in his cunning the prophet still left the trail. And as the teacher he always was, he left us with the picture of depletion, a mirror of forgotten lore: if they don't get you in the wash, night and day night and day night and day... n thn he rose up

greygray
July 9th 2011


2 Comments


Anyone who has done crack knows this was the crack talkin
I love the prophet with all my heart and soul and his life post '81 is nothing moe thn i n i teach n moan ment.

This is crap the prophet in his focus would neva even belch such utterances, yet from the shadow of a doublebarrell at the audibon he manage to eck out warnings.

Who introduced the prophet to his demise? Musta bn sum1 he highly respected and and admired sum one of wilbon, barkely, Xpire. sum one who felt spared and obligated to knock the spirited from his square.

Sum 1 co-operated with the mayhem in Memphis just like sum 1 pull the trigger at the audibon. desperation buys easy participates to purse string feed menu.

However in his cunning the prophet still left the trail. And as the teacher he always was, he left us with the picture of depletion, a mirror of forgotten lore: if they don't get you in the wash, night and day night and day night and day... n thn he rose up



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy