As mentioned recently by Tom Morello during one of his interviews, “bad presidents, make for good music”. The new Living Colour album provides an excellent argument to this quote…
My strong appreciation for Living Colour as a band who has helped me to define and maintain a non-binary stance against life, had been previously expressed in written form in this blog. Their last year’s release (Who Shot Ya? mixtape) had brought them again in (my) spotlight and had me started following their whereabouts. The 3 songs contained in the mixtape were a much promising appetiser for a possible new album so when a release date was announced I started waiting with anticipation.
Et voilà…Shade, Living Colour’s 6th album overall and first since 2009, is a breath of fresh air. Despite the years passed, Living Colour’s sound has not mellowed down a single bit and given the current political situation in the US this is something that should not surprise us at all. Living Colour still remain vocal showing that their political stance is, unfortunately, relevant again.
Shade, to the listeners satisfaction, does not lack pluralism. With Hard rock (still) being the main reference, the album is a enriched with a variety of styles. From Funk (Come On, Blak Out, Who’s That), Blues (Preachin’ Blues), Soul and Jazz (Inner City Blues) to Hip-Hop (Program), the record is a continuous celebration of musical diversity.
The guitar work of Vernon Reid is once again exquisite not only for its technique but also for his ability to write amazing riffs (Program, Who Shot Ya?, Always Wrong, Glass Teeth) and play amazing solos (Freedom of Expression, Blak Out, Who’s That) reminding frequently Jimmy Hendrix (Invisible). Corey Glover’s vocals are in excellent shape and this is showcased in songs like Preachin’ Blues, Always Wrong, Glass Teeth and especially in the album’s standout closing track, the highly emotional Two Sides.
If could point only one negative point in the whole release, that would be the overall absence of printed lyrics in the CD. Call me traditional, but honestly I wouldn’t care less if this was another generic heavy metal record. However, here we are talking about the new Living Colour album and I am sure that the world has to read (apart from listening to it) their message. I am sure the song texts will be out on Internet soon but somehow I find it difficult to conceive any possible reason for such an omission.
Overall, Shades is a magnificent return album from one of Hard Rock’s most special groups!