To the day a year ago, I didn’t show much love for the original album, I’m New Here, the first Gil Scott-Heron record in over a decade. And while my opinion remains unchanged, writing a bad review on one of my biggest heroes, left a bad after taste. But then again, I consider that review more as a guide to the good music Gil has recorded over the decades, mainly the late seventies and the early eighties.
However, lucky for me, this new album full of reworks by Jamie xx makes up for last year’s disappointment and gives me the chance to make with peace my conscience.
01. I’m New Here
03. I’ve Been Me (interlude)
05. My Cloud
06. Certain Things (interlude)
07. The Crutch
08. Ur Soul & Mine
09. Parents (interlude)
10. Piano Player
11. NY Is Killing Me
12. Jazz (interlude)
13. I’ll Take Care Of U
My point of criticism back then was the attempt to package Gil’s lyrics into a modern world sound, for it failed by giving it the touch of records made more than 10 years ago. Jamie xx, however, seems like the perfect choice, the right man at the right time. Due to my lack of interest in bands like The xx, I was only recently introduced to his solo work, more dancefloor oriented music, somewhere between house and dubstep, with a touch of Joy Orbison, Ramadanman or James Blake. Arguably a modern sound.
The result is a forward thinking record, deep and playful, perfect headphone music. It works surprisingly well with Gil’s vocals, the very same I still criticized on the original, but they probably just needed the right context. Maintaining the overall sound scheme, Jamie xx made an album you can listen to in one flow, from start to finish, over and over again.
Longtime fans of Gil Scott-Heron might not approve of the record, but chances are they already felt the same about its predecessor. In his review for XLR8R, Michael Byrne mentions the lack Gil Scott-Heron’s persona on the record, something I agree with, but then I probably care more about the consistency of the finished work and leave aside questions about the artists original intent.
“We’re New Here” is available on CD, LP and digital, the vinyl included a free download of the MP3s (oddly enough with misspelled tags.) If you buy directly from the label, you can also get your hands on a limited edition boxset (pictured above) including CDs and heavyweight vinyl of both the album and its instrumental versions, as well as two photo prints.
May 30, 2011 Check this interview with Jamie xx in which he talks about working with Gil Scott-Heron, who sadly passed away this weekend
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