True Groove Records (label)
08 December 2015 (released)
29 April 2016
Now that the vast majority of modern releases will scarcely sell a physical copy, sitting down to take in the artwork and comb through the liner notes has become a rare activity. For those exploring new music, if a name isn't included in the artist's moniker, it will usually go by unnoticed.
I was recently checking out the new release from New York jazz trumpeter, Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics and I found myself as entranced by the spacey production and smooth rapped verses as by the trumpeting of the band leader. The name Tomás Doncker pops up several times in the credits as guitarist, vocalist and producer. In following the bread crumbs back to Doncker's solo work, I found a stark and beautifully poignant piece of biting social commentary in The Mess We Made.
Furiously inspired by the mass shooting that took place in a South Carolina church last year, Doncker feverishly composed the record as a plea for justice as well as a way to grieve. A way to try to comprehend why history keeps repeating itself and with seemingly increasing frequency.
Single 'Church Burning Down' has that blend of drum and bass with gospel that came popping out of Georgia in 2000. The tune seems bizarrely upbeat for a song about such dark subject matter but it serves as a call to arms. Get up and do something about it!
The title track has the swelling and swooping organ of old soul records juxtaposed with references to social media and smart phones. 'Let Go' is an achingly bare lament to hard times and seemingly unsurmountable odds but the narrator insists that fighting on is the only option. The familiar melody of 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' is brought out of the stadium and in to the church where it rightly belongs. The cover version blends in to some George Clinton funk for the bridge before slipping back in to step with the original. The album's final statement 'Time Will Tell' posits the possibility of unity with guarded optimism.
The Mess We Made is surging with the undercurrents of 2015; racism, senseless killings and a divided country. Sadly, a state that has recurred so many times in America's history. Thankfully, there are artists out there who create compositions to help us heal from it.