J. Nolan - Blue Skies Track Review

I'll start this track review by making it clear that Hip-Hop is not a genre I am generally comfortable with. The stuff I generally appreciate is either Trip-Hop or the experimental stuff. The key issues I have are that you can often hear "keyboard sample drums", shitty autotune and self-grandiose lyrics which are usually sexist or singing about drugs okaythatsaverybroadgeneralisation. And the latter is okay at times but it's so stagnated in the less underground stuff that I've no real desire to filter the good "bitches on mah dick" style from the bad. Giving this a listen, the first thing that comes to mind is that the lyrics couldn't be much further from this. It's pretty much a dedication to the mistakes he's made, and considering Nolan claims this album will be relating to his faith and reflection on life, that seems about right. The flow is neat and smooth. Everything melds together fairly neatly and the piano progression is slightly reminiscent of what I hear on John Legend's debut (a personal favourite) but with the unremarkable but fitting drums in the background. Towards the end I hear lighter percussion as the bass becomes more prominent but I don't think I mind this as what's very apparent is the production on here. The higher frequencies have been compressed to get some of the highs cut down just a little and this gives my ears room to really enjoy the heavy reliance on the cymbals in the song. It sounds natural, and very realistically something that could be performed live with no backing track; just a piano, a bass, a drummer, and two vocals. It's a very laid back track, albeit a somewhat generic one based on what I've heard and what I generally expect to hear. My biggest gripe is the cheese: an issue I often have. The chorus is a big lump of Blue Swiss which detracts from the original thematic lyrics and kind of becomes this obligatory filler to stretch the track out. In fact thinking about it, I'm reminded of the chorus of that trainwreck of Eminem's "When I'm Gone" in that the verses are pretty good and feel very sincere only to be completely battered by the chorus. In all honesty this sort of thing would do better with just the one hook or maybe none at all as the main piano riff is pretty noice as it is. And then you've got the vocals coming in at the start of each chorus, which is agonizing  It's neither welcome nor complementary and I'm almost wondering if it was thrown in just to piss reviewers off. But returning to what I like about it, what you get is the dominance of the beat you would expect from hip-hop but it doesn't overpower what's going on with the other instruments and that makes this something to relax to as well as being something to blast. The frequent automation used on the piano is what's doing that. You get the bass notes in your right ear at the start of each bar, and the left is more reserved for the melody.  It's inoffensive, and that's both a good thing and a bad thing.

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