12 little spells
Esperanza Spalding has long been a critically-acclaimed bassist, singer and songwriter. Her debut album, 2006’s Junjo, hinged on her jazz foundations, while in 2011, she won a Best New Artist Grammy with Chamber Music Society still holding close to those underpinnings. A couple albums later, it seems she’s been feverishly working toward something more risky--something experimental and avant-garde. On her newest, 12 Little Spells, musical surrealism is the journey we’re called to attempt, shedding any sonic limitations or expectations we’ve had of Spalding in the past. Her same mastery of musicianship is there as it’s always been, but layered in an edgier aural complexity. If this album were a road, you’d need a plane to follow without faltering. The sublime sensuality of “Touch In Mine” and the groove heavy feel-good of “You Have To Dance” is the closest to anything mainstream you’re going to get.
The sprawling beauty of 12 Little Spells challenges a society that’s grown both bored and too comfortable with, well, comfort. Each track on the album is conceptually tied to a different body part for all your feels, and for the visuals, there’s a music video component to every song. “Dancing the Animal” is Spalding’s exploration into a dystopia where she’s lyrically juxtaposed smartphones and our obsession with social media to a failed religion of sorts that destroys the better beast, the animal within us. 12 Little Spells is individualism and eccentricity at its musical best.