Brand New Morning
Based around warm, lush, lazy jazz grooves, Gretchen Lieberum’s second solo album is contemporary soul, emotive, layered trip-hop that’s fully organic, intimate and inviting. A bit like Portishead, although Lieberum doesn’t have — nor does she aim for — that eerie fundament that made Portishead so compelling at their very best. Lieberum’s world is a far more inviting place, far more comforting and safe than the world that so many of her contemporaries portray. Where acts like, say, Massive Attack attempt to explore a fundamental feeling of insecurity and angst, Lieberum goes the other way, trying to carve out a space of love and quiet in an urban, busy setting — an admirable project, for sure.
It does backfire on her on occasion, though, when the music seems to loose all sense of danger and presence, almost crossing over to fairy-tale land of all peace and love — that is, completely out of touch with the real world, like some new age heaven. It’s a good thing, then, that Jurassic 5’s Cut Chemist guests on a few tracks, adding some clarity and rawness that’s a bit lacking in the overall feel of the album. And while she’s equally adept at trip-hop, folky jazz, and more traditional jazz — all of which receive an airing here — one lacks a bit more attack and bite from time to time.
That said, Lieberum has an intense, soothing voice that should take her far — she’s already one of mp3.com’s most popular artists ever, and there’s little reason why she shouldn’t climb another few mountains in the years to come. Once she gains a bit more focus and manages to keep a bit more of an edge to her music, she’ll be ready to take over the world.
Lakeshore Records: http://www.lakeshore-records.com