De Medeiros (June 14, 2011)
Review by Tom D.
Saudade is the much-anticipated third solo album from Mr. J. Medeiros — the follow up to 2009’s Friends Enemies Apples Apples. Enlisting the help of his newly formed production team, The Stare (Mr. J, Stro and Luke Atencio), Mr. J. Medeiros has reinvented himself, yet again. Saudade is a Portuguese word — according to the end-all Wikipedia database — translated as “a somewhat melancholic feeling of incompleteness. Saudade is related to think back situations of privation due to the absence of someone or something, to move away from a place or thing, or to the absence of a set of particular and desirable experiences and pleasures once lived.”
The tone is set with the vulnerable “Fear and Safety” — a palpable narrative of the many vulnerabilities of the human psyche. The poet in Mr. J glides over slender and graceful keys — aside Bekah Wagner’s soothing vocals — lending a sense of calm to the track before a drumming climax brings the listener to a pinnacle. “Depression Is a Liar” will take your eardrums off-roading, as Medeiros experiments with his vocal landscape, providing an alternative edge with soaring vocals. Things switch up yet again with “Swallow” — a splendid blend of the patented rhyme schemes we have come to expect from Mr. J, pairing with a succulent, ear-catching hook from Logan.
For the many things that Saudade is, perhaps it’s more important to note what Saudade is not. Saudade is not a rap record. Saudade is not a hip-hop record. Saudade is an experiment of style and sound. As such, with experimentation there are times of head scratching (see “Stand Down”, “The Weak End”) and there are times of unabashed triumph (see “Swallow”, “Fear and Safety”). Fourteen tracks later, you will find that the latter is much more prevalent in Saudade.
For fans of: The Procussions, Shad