I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with Martha Wash before listening to her recent release Love & Conflict. As I was listening to the music I did a quick Google search and oh man has she had a prolific career. I was reading an article from Rolling Stone about her accomplishments and suffice it to say that even if you haven’t heard her name before you have most likely heard her voice but didn’t even realize it.
Now let's get to the album. Love & Conflict is definitely an album that is on a spectrum in terms of style and aesthetics. Some of the production sounds contemporary while other songs have more of an older quality. The two most glaring examples of this are “Honey My Friend” and “Don’t Forget My Name.” The former sounds like it could have come from the ’50s or ’60s. I loved the vibe which combines gospel, soul and blues. Her vocals sounded just perfect for the style.
The next song “Don’t Forget My Name” jumps up a couple decades. I would say there is a mix of production aesthetics here. There is some ’70s disco and funk, the drum machines sound very ’80s and I would also throw in some hip-hop type production from the early ’90s. My point being these were very different songs in some aspects but the undeniable vocals of Wash is what unites them.
On that note I suggest you start right from the beginning with “Glamour Flows” which is an upbeat, fun jam that actually reminded me of the band OutKast when it came to music. Next up is “Like Fire” which is joyful, cathartic and empowering. I loved the energy and wish I felt this way every day when I wake up.
The closer “Rise and Shine” has more of that ’70s disco and funk vibe but I would argue that some of what’s happening in terms of the production has more of a modern twist. First off, I love the title of “Never Enough Money” and it’s also a great song. The drums and groove were so tight, crisp and ’70s inspired. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this song in a Quentin Tarantino film.
“Flowers Blossom” was another unique tune and arguable highlight. This is more of a ballad that’s cinematic and contains sweeping strings and soaring background vocals. Wash kills it on the vocals as expected but this song contains some melancholy and pain that comes from deep within the soul. There is a little bit of levity on the piano led “Soaring Free.”
I’ve been seeing more and more ads about software that will write chord progressions for you, beats that are already made for you and many other things that basically write the music for you. I’m not a fan of these kinds of “advancements” in general because they don't encourage true creativity and talent.
I think any true artist understands that it has to start from your soul, your pain, your passions and who you are as a human being. Those somewhat ineffable elements that make original music so powerful can’t be sold but they can be created. I would say Love & Conflict certainly possesses a lot of those elements that makes music feel like magic. Highly recommended.
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