Taylor McFerrin

Love's Last Chance

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With his 2014 full-length debut Early Riser three years in the past, Taylor McFerrin joined R+R=Now, a formidable group instigated by fellow keyboardist, composer, and producer Robert Glasper. The swift recording process that yielded the sextet's Collagically Speaking motivated McFerrin to check his perfectionism as he worked on his second album. The resulting Love's Last Chance does evince a more direct step on a surface level. Pacific rhythms with squiggling synthesizers and casually bobbing basslines course through it, with not one flashback to the wrought, jagged edges and stammering patterns of Early Riser. There's a nearly equal increase in the musician's stylistic agility, typified by the moment when a teasingly short interlude evoking progressive '70s MPB like Azymuth sharply pivots to the Anna Wise duet "Memory Digital," mellow modern boogie that can slide between Keni Burke and Dām-Funk. The clearest and most crucial developments, however, are the upswings in candid songwriting and unfeigned vocals. On his first LP, McFerrin seldom used his voice and either buried or fogged it out. Now it's the focal point -- limited in range and soothing but consistently affecting, longing for physical and emotional presence, stuck in relationship statuses swinging from flux to disintegration, open enough to declare "I need you in my life" and "You should leave me, baby, before I leave you." Just after the latter is clearly expressed, McFerrin's voice becomes submerged, dubbed out to an extreme as the album reaches peak distress, a repeated resignation of "I can't give your time back." A cyclonic synthesizer creeping in the background intensifies and gives up the ghost once his voice is completely muted. The album then at least lets out the listener on a free-spirited note from a nonsequential scene catching McFerrin in an untroubled mood, aware of the disconnect, too consumed with adoration to care.

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