Incorporating elements of Jazz, soulful House, Electronica and World music, Peacock is a beautiful and diverse musical homage to the Yoruba spirit Oshun (Ochun). Hailing from St. Louis Missouri, a place known for pioneering Jazz and Blues, Osunlade is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, producer and DJ: a pioneering artist in the truest sense of the word. Osunlade is an artist who personifies art, with his unique, idiosyncratic music inspired by and channeled directly from his rich and varied existence.
An ordained priest of the Yoruba Ifa religion – which incorporates a complex set of beliefs based around of songs, histories, stories and other cultural concepts that make up the Yoruba society, spirituality informs much of Osunlade’s creative output, and this latest project is no exception. Recorded in homage to the orisha Oshun, a Yoruba spirit who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy, Peacock is an album about relationships, the heart, acceptance, vulnerability and change.
Many will have been familiar with last November’s deep house hit “Dionne”, which was produced by Osunlade, with his vision of layered melodies writ large throughout the programming and percussion, the hit song featured the sample of Dionne Warwick’s “Walk The Way You Talk” and is just another example of Osunlade’s exploration of blending electronica and true old soul vocals of a singer as well known as Warwick.
From the almost interstellar opening of the album’s first track, entitled “Jade”, the listener is immersed within a soundscape that’s ever changing, progressive and imaginative until the end. The old school funk and soul vibe of “Change” has its roots firmly in the genres past, an acknowledgement of what was meant by ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ music in the days before James Brown; an audacious mix of Rhythm and Blues and Religion, it’s expert pacing making this one of the best Peacock has on offer.
Central themes of love and change are explored thoroughly through layered melodies and atmospheric interludes, “Barking Trees (Lucan’s Song)” is probably the best example of this in action – its Xylophonic opening quickly becomes entangled with sleigh bells and guitar, the mood is dark and attentions are rapt. It is on “Better Man” that we are indulged in a pacey love song led, as ever, by weighty tribal percussion with snaps of applause used to punctuate his lyricism, “I see lightning when you’re around” floats in between expressive flutes that serve as the polish and embroidery on this ambitious production.
Ideas about honesty, reflection and admission abound on the album, it’s almost inevitable when listening not to do the same and although some tracks come across as simply too busy, the majority of the album is expertly crafted journey music. With the exception of the album’s two electronic explorations, the album is fully realized in classic analogue soul funk with Osunlade taking the reins on the vocals and the vast majority of the instrumentation. Deeply personal in its creation yet exploring themes that are familiar to us all, this eight song LP takes us back to the beauty and simplicity of the act of listening, and emotions it can stir within us.
Peacock is out on October 19, 2014 (CD and digital) on Yoruba Records and you can catch him live with Luke Solomon, FCL and Terrence Parker at Ministry of Sound on the 1st of November, 2014.