Anyone who has had the misfortune of reading my writing on this site knows I’m a huge Prince fan. Therefore, it’s really hard for me to knock someone else — like Joseph Malik — for being one, too. Of course, I am a writer, and Malik’s a musician. My adoration can in no way lead to my art seeming imitative.
Malik’s “emulation” is limited, though, focusing mainly on the reverbed or overdubbed falsetto (to probably cover up a weak voice) that Malik uses throughout the entire disc. The effect is too reminiscent of Prince’s being his own three-part harmony (like Marvin Gaye before him). Though not as creepy as D’Angelo’s channeling can oftentimes be, it’s hardly original. Fortunately, though, that’s where the highest form of flattery ends. The music itself is quite original, refreshing, and snappy. Malik surprisingly carves out a soulful pop that combines too many elements to list and contains many daring choices that your average musician simply would not make. And some songs, like “Take it All In and Check it All Out” and “Ibotribe” are amazing and would make Diverse one of your best purchases for this year.
If it were not for the voice (which does become burdensome at times), I would have nothing but the highest marks for him. I do understand that imitation is a part of any artist’s development, but, by the time one is producing her/his own album, that imitation should’ve been carved into one’s own, unique style and not make the listener suddenly want to hear Sign o’ the Times. However, I will say that, because of Diverse, Joseph Malik is now a name that I will be looking out for and a sound I am anxious to hear develop.
Compost Records: http://www.compost-records.com