From the album's opening moments, it's clear that G Is For Deep is different sort of beast. Adam Doseone Drucker's first solo LP for the label he founded 15 years ago finds this one-man Oakland arts colony more lyrically naked than ever, singing instead of rapping, dressed in a Technicolor swirl of synthesizer, drum machine, hacked Gameboy, and layered voice. To call this pop might be misleading, but there are indeed choruses here. To call it R&B might confuse, but these are songs about one hardworking man's ups and downs with life, love, friendship, and fear. After years of innovating via projects like cLOUDDEAD, 13 & God, Themselves, and Subtle, Dose returns alone holding one of the brightest records of his career.
Through his work in those other groups, as well as his pending Nevermen collaboration with Mike Patton and TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, Dose honed his production skills until he could make the music he heard in his head. His aim with Deep was to do just that—to compose ten original pieces, rather than hit record and catch what came. Meanwhile, he'd play-test the instrumentals to a packed house at the San Francisco offshoot of L.A.'s influential Low End Theory club. When it came to the vocals, he took a different approach. Aiming for the spontaneity of his raps but conceding his limits as a singer, Dose would surround himself by pages of unsorted lyrics at night, drink copious amounts of whiskey, and sing at the top of his lungs. At 7 a.m. with a pot of coffee, he'd revisit and re-record each part stone sober.
In the end, G Is For Deep is something both considered and impulsive, equal parts brains and heart. There is a manic electricity to songs like the opener, "Dancing X," bassy kicks and burbling keys popping and pulsing in oddly harmonious sync. "I Fell" isn't afraid to get noisy even as it embraces melody—a perfect aural counterpoint to its subject of wanting nothing more than to fall in love, but being utterly cloistered against that outcome. "Therapist This" slowly grows from its low-slung beginnings into a towering sort of maximal soul as Dose sings of guilt as "a fearsome church built from black stone." His voice is alternately a mighty choir, a friendly whisper, a jilted growl. The album buzzes like a neon bulb, a lovely contrast to its ultimate question, poised on "The Bends" — "What exactly do you not understand about the blues?"
released May 30, 2012
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