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Album Review
Awaken, My Love

Awaken, My Love
by Childish Gambino

Liberator Music / Glassnote Records

Review Date
6th December 2016
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

It’s comforting to know there’s at least one American ‘Donald’ who will create something of value in 2016. Unlike his orange namesake, Donald Glover has committed his time on earth so far to creating art in each of its forms, one by one. Already an accomplished writer (30 Rock), comedian and actor with his own widely successful tv show (Atlanta), it’s his musical alter-ego Childish Gambino that you should be excited about right now.

That’s because the release of Awaken, My Love marks a quantum leap in the evolution of Glover’s music. Where his previous two full-length records and assorted mixtapes showed promise and even generated a number of sleeper hits, they also had the feeling of sketches in a scrapbook; disjointed and experimental. Awaken, My Love is different and all the better for it. It has a narrative and a consistent sound. The record’s 50 punchy minutes are steeped in neo-soul, gospel and hip hop. Opener ‘Me and Your Mama’ is a great showcase of this as a captivating genre surfing soiree into soul and gospel by way of an unexpected but welcome prog-rock middle third.

But if there is a home genre for the record, it is unquestionably funk. More accurately, 1970s Clinton-esque (George, not Hillary) funkadelia. From the disco-crawl and screaming riffs of ‘Boogieman’ to the slow jam, slap-bass of ‘Redbone’, the record is saturated in it. Vocally, there are some occasions where Glover’s own voice can’t quite meet the expectations the music asks of it, but these are offset by a set cameo artists who ably step in as required.

There is a whirlwind of hype around this record and it is wholly justified. Awaken, My Love is a bright, adventurous and well crafted record.


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