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Published on February 5th, 2019 | by voxx

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Georgia Anne Muldrow – Overload

Neo-soul’s leftfield queen remains three steps ahead of the pack…

If Georgia Anne Muldrow’s future-soul no longer sounds quite so jarringly otherworldly as when her 2006 debut Olesi: Fragments Of An Earth dropped, that’s only because her contemporaries are finally beginning to catch up, as R&B glides through its current evolutionary step. In the years that followed Olesi, Muldrow’s own SomeOthaShip Connect label (founded with partner Dudley Perkins) became the conduit for a slew of releases from this prolific soul auteur. And while much of that output passed below the radar, Muldrow has developed a reputation as an artist’s artist, building her cult following via higher profile collaborations with admirers like Erykah Badu, Madlib and Mos Def, who compares Muldrow to Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and J Dilla.

Those collaborators and reference points stake out the vague frontiers of where Muldrow operates, though she’s near-impossible to pin down, proudly sui generis and given to brash creative left-turns. What most sets Overload – her fifteenth album, and first for Brainfeeder – apart from what came before is a stronger sense of focus, though the album is as diverse and unpredictable as any Muldrow set, rewiring a century of black music in accordance with her frequent whims. Overload swings wildly, from downbeat sing-song reggae (‘Play It Up’), to rasping trap-house beats (‘Overload’), to furious Last Poets throwdowns (the coda to ‘Blam’, with its fiery mantra “Before I’d be a slave/I’ll be buried in my grave”), its ambition only matched by the ease with which Muldrow’s eclecticism of mood and sound makes sense.

The album is no less adventurous than her previous output, Muldrow’s lyrics lending a magic-realistic spin to her politicised poetics, her productions visionary. All her trademark tics and flourishes are present: celestial multi-tracked harmonies, conversing with themselves and coining unexpected chords; long, jazzily digressive melodies – riddles begging solution. And, of course, the fearlessness, reaching its apotheosis on ‘Bobbie’s Dittie’, a mind-blowing mash of Afrobeat playfulness, gutbucket funk and overheating drum machines that ends up like The J.B.’s playing drum’n’bass from another dimension, as infinite Georgias sing like angels and griots.

But Overload is more than the sum of Muldrow’s sounds and furious invention, always signifying something. Her overriding theme is love, in its many forms: observing the struggles and profundities of long-term romance on the aching slow-jam of ‘You Can Always Count On Me’, trading compliments with Perkins on the winningly goofy ‘These Are The Things I Really Like About You’, and accessing a dark and heavy eroticism on the electro-dub longing of ‘Canadian Hillbilly’. She’s a more than adept enough artist to encompass her theme’s multitudes, delivering an album that’s haunting, original, and her most creatively successful yet. Fans of Badu, Solange and Janelle must investigate.

- By Jake White


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