(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

CD review - Gil Scott-Heron, I'm New Here (2010)

I'm saying things like a snake
They may sound crazy
But I'm the closest thing I have to a voice of reason
- Gil Scott-Heron, I'm New Here
In many ways, Gil Scott-Heron's deeply personal I'm New Here serves as an epitaph. Maybe not for Scott-Heron himself, but on the performer of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised or Winter In America. Gil Scott-Heron has come back: back from early highs of critical raves, from the maturity of becoming one of the inspirations for rap, acid jazz, and other genres, and back from the lows of drug addiction and extended jail time.

This is not a tale of redemption, so much as a frank look at someone who's passed through the fire to recognize who he is and where he came from. The voice is worn and breaking, the music is modern and spare, his will is still strong, and the songs are more personal than political.
If you got to pay for things you've done wrong,
I got a big bill coming at the end of the day
- Gil Scott-Heron, Being Blessed (Interlude)
Despite prison, personal travails, and health problems, Scott-Heron faces up to where he is now. He shares that insight, matter of fact and unapologetically. At the same time, he bookends the album with On Coming From a Broken Home, which looks at his roots and the strong women who raised him. He wants his audience to know who he is -- strength and weakness.
Because I always feel like running Not away, because there is no such place Because, if there was, I would have found it by now - Gil Scott-Heron, Running
I'm New Here provides deep insight into a great and complex performer. While I miss the young Gil Scott-Heron, I'm glad to catch up with this more battle scarred man.

This is a black coffee CD for late at night, when you've given up on sleep. When you turn the stack of records over and over, so you won't be alone.

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