Sunday, 13 April 2014

Album Review - Food

by Kelis (out April 18th 2014)

Kelis, a musician who, to me signifies a sense of freedom and expression, a woman whose music holds a special place in my heart as a catalyst for growth and individuality, has a new album on the way called Food.  Will it be soul food or junk food?

Waaaaaay back in the historic records when I was 18, had just moved out of home and was experiencing my post high school growth with festering desires to express my individuality and worth to the world, came a voice from the ethers of expression, loud enough to drown out my own self-loathing tendencies which, made the proclamation “I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW AAAAHHHHHH!” This spoke directly to my core and began my love/hate relationship with Kelis.

With a voice that simmers like a velvety crème anglaise and bubbles as fervently as a deep fried drumstick, Kelis has lent her vocal prowess to both immense delights such as Kaleidoscope’s ‘Mafia’, the poptastic hit ‘Milkshake’ from Tasty and on the flip side, cringe worthy horrors like Kelis Was Here’s  ‘Ah Shit’ and pretty much most of Wanderland. So I tend to approach future releases with caution due to her unpredictable genre hopping ways. I guess that unpredictability is what makes Kelis such an exciting presence in the industry filled with “music by numbers” performers and this makes me even more eager to share the pure gold, glory bloated delight that is Food.

Jerk Ribs! You heard me, JERK RIBS! The opening track to Food jumps right out there and says “Open your pie hole and put me in it!” Introducing the definite Motown vibe, ‘Jerk Ribs’ sets the theme for the album with deeper feels, funkier beats and an almost endless supply of finger licking good pop hooks. The retro jazz/blues/rock/pop mesh influence on Food truly makes Kelis’s already very fine vocals shine like the sunrise after a storm; it glistens, it’s as warm as a summer barbecue and has more heart than I think I’ve ever heard from her on any previous album.

Food is absolutely bursting with super fine retro inspired instrumentation and much to my joy features a good helping of brass. I’m no music history expert but feels as if Kelis (and her producers) have been exploring the 50s and 60s for inspiration in with an overall Motown feel that moves into vintage rock territory and the odd Americana twang thrown in for good measure. It’s as if Kelis is going through some kind of list of inspiration and paying homage to some of pop cultures biggest movements in modern history (look at me being all academic false-academic).

Many of the tracks on Food sound like they could have been ripped from the soundtracks of dusty old movies that your Nan and Pop had lying around when your were a polyp. Highlights include but are not limited to booty shakers like 'Jerk Ribs', finger snappers like 'Hooch', crooners like 'Runner and Rumble', then there’s the surprise songs like 'Fish Fry': a rolling, bumpy ride of pure, twanging American Rock, 'Change': a Spaghetti Western/Americana inspired piece, which would be at home in a Kill Bill-esque film and finally the gripping and stripped back piano piece 'Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy'. Yep that’s pretty much the whole album.

Overall this feels really tight, well put together whereas in the past I’ve thought some Kelis albums to be often a little disjointed or inconsistent. Food is the real deal and an album I can see myself growing into more and more despite its immediate appeal. You want a dance? Food can help. You want to chill? Food can help. You want to cry? Read the lyrics while emotionally eating half a cake and a back of potato chips…

This is my fave Kelis album to date, and has rekindled my love for her. Oh and did you know Kelis is a qualified chef? I can’t think of a better combination than food and music, which includes dancing, singing and weeping.
Nayt Housman gives Food four Diana Ross heads out of five...

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