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The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here: B+

Much like your standard poem, the songs of I'm New Here remain strictly centered around an often literal premise and leave abruptly when it's clear that premise has been transferred to the listener. Whether it be accompanied by a sample of Kanye West's "Flashing Lights" or acoustic fingerpicking, Gil keeps his music trim of frills and indulgences, preferring to let his excellent wordplay serve as the focus, and causing most of I'm New Here's songs to be less than three minutes. Lyrically, my favorite song is "Where Did the Night Go", whose subject cannot bring himself to write to his long lost love a letter past the words "Dear baby, how are you?" and whose delivery is impassioned and believable. However, as an overall product, "The Crutch" is I'm New Here's highlight. The thump of the song's percussion is menacing as Gil describes a battle scene with brief but harrowing detail. His best line is an alliteration. "Ba boom boom" he whispers along with the beat. Simply put, it's chilling.

I would be giving I'm New Here a higher rating if it were not for the pointless asides in between songs that sound recorded directly in the studio. They disrupt the flow of the album, and I don't get anything out of them that could be more telling than what a full song would sound like with their combined running time. Still, a minute and eight seconds of dud on an album brimming with talent is nothing to shake a fist at, so I'm New Here is a great listening experience even though you'll have to turn your attention away from it at certain intervals.


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