Review Summary: Blissful morning coffee: the album.Misunderstood
does not wait a second before revealing its intentions. As soon as the needle finds the groove, relaxed Rhodes chords purr into your ear in delightfully produced stereo space while soft echoes coat the background. And just like that, you get it: this one was made for relaxed mornings and coffee steam.
It is sometimes difficult not to let tenderness affect our critique. And among those who followed Georgie Sweet’s story as a growing artist, Misunderstood
is almost bound to attract a kind eye. This is the earnest culmination of seven years of musical development by someone who is only now twenty years of age. Sweet’s work came to public light in the last couple of years through the UK-based label Futuristica Records, fostering eager excitement in those who dug up her songs from Bandcamp’s dark underbelly. And after many a teaser track - half the album having been previously released as singles - it is finally time to see what she can offer on full-length format.
At its core, Misunderstood
is a love letter to the twenty-first century soul scene, with a touch of jazz and a slight hip-hop twist. Sweet wears her influences on her sleeve, citing the likes of Erykah Badu and Hiatus Kaiyote as her prime sources of inspiration. While the comparison with neo-soul acts is quite immediate, there are traces of other things to be found here. The piano’s harmonic ventures on What I Had Done
give some surprising spice to a record that’s all about sugar, Misunderstood Reprise
makes extensive use of reverb seas commonly found in ambient music, and the aerial Deserve Something
is a beautiful ode to sorely missed Nujabes. Whether that is a sign of the young artist’s eagerness to explore new themes or the product of mere variations between the many producers behind the record remains to be seen.
Although it keeps the album from feeling monotonous, this multiplicity of atmospheres and instrumental personnel can also feel somewhat directionless. It gives rise to mild but real sequencing oddities whereby the record fluctuates excessively between smooth, groovy, calm and catchy with no apparent overarching aim. Taken individually however, many of the tracks become instant tunes with undeniable replay value, particularly towards the middle of the record. And while the instrumental side has its ups and downs, there is one constant to give every song a good amount of substance and provide the album its strongest foundation: Georgie’s outstanding vocal performance across the board.
It is indeed what truly makes Misunderstood
not only a neat, well-produced little neo-soul record, but also an exciting prospect for the future. Whether left raw or accompanied by layers of backing vocals, her voice twirls and curls over the beats with obvious talent – a prowess most clearly evidenced on the closing live track, which is perhaps its sole interest. Despite the lo-fi hip-hop aesthetic at play on multiple songs, there is no rapping to be found here: Georgie Sweet as a singer is all about smooth, round soul with a touch of R’n’B catchiness. With a vocalist this talented and the strong support of an experienced label whose new generation she now champions, her musical outlook is positively bright. If you are going to give a chance to some random Bandcamp record to jam over breakfast, this one is certainly well worth a spin.