Review Summary: devolution burns inside me
For a musician who's often associated with her afro, Esperanza Spalding has completely stepped outside her former body on Emily's D+Evolution
to inhabit, in a way, her original body. Now, she has returned to her roots, i.e., her adolescent self, with a pair of fresh eyes and ears to embody, enliven, and color her youth with hindsight. In Emily's D+Evolution
, Spalding seems to feel a sort of loss and disillusion from her adulthood, which she appears to recover by tucking away her maturity, containing everything she has learned in sleek braids, and looking at her world through young Emily's (what she was called as a child) blocky lenses once more.
Although Spalding hasn't been one to constrict herself, she has always stayed within her trademark Jazz lane; however, in D+Evolution
, Spalding relinquishes tradition to drift from one to several lanes, where she experiments more than ever before. Here, Emily can be seen clearly, because instead of producing music to affirm her long-trained strengths, Spalding embraces a childish, fanciful spirit, as well as her once limitless dreams, which came at a time in her life when she wanted to be many things as opposed to one thing: a bassist (who sings).
Straightaway with album opener “Good Lava,” Spalding jumpstarts Emily's spirit with a mantra that repeats several phrases: “see this pretty girl flow,” “watch this pretty girl flow,” and “let this pretty girl flow,” which together find a sense of release. In this track, Spalding becomes immersed in"good" lava. Though this flowing lava initially emerges in rock-ish texture, that rocky layer hardens, only to be overwhelmed by another, funkier one. The multi-textured presence found on "Good Lava" permeates D+Evolution
, as Spalding infuses her characteristic techniques with liveliness, sass, and edge throughout. There's a carefree quality everywhere, almost as if Spalding is perpetually unraveling. On “One,” she sings, “I would dive in all who delight me,” highlighting a basal instinct, as well as a carelessness frequently associated with immaturity. However, for Spalding, this carelessness doesn't turn messy but blooms instead, opening up possibilities she hadn't considered before. That being said, this album itself isn't uncharted territory, but rather, innovative to herself, which seems to fulfill D+Evolution
is Spalding's personal awakening, where she finds things about herself, first by devolving into wacky time signatures, unexpected but groovy riffs, and untimely screeches and coos; and then, by evolving - patching everything back together with her smooth, skillful voice and a resounding bass. As sung on “Funk the Fear,” rather than heed to a careful reality, Spalding just wants “the dream
to come true.” And D+Evolution
definitely succeeds in bringing her dreams, wild as they may be, to life.