The Floacist

Rise of the Phoenix Mermaid

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AllMusic Review by

Natalie "The Floacist" Stewart's third solo release has no apparent grand aspiration, despite its title and hour-plus length, two qualities indicative of a concept album. In fact, there's no clarification as to whether the phoenix mermaid is part mythological bird, part human-fish, or merely a mythological human-fish from the real Arizona desert. Still aligned with Chris "Big Dog" Davis, who played all but one guitar line and one bassline and produced it all, Stewart stretches out across 13 tracks of introspection, romantic contentment and strife, sisterhood, and motherhood. It's all positive and empowered reflection, expressed through Stewart's mostly whispery recitations and singing. Over the course of the album, her approach can wear thin or fade into the background. Davis helps by coming up with a wide range of backdrops to suit the largely relaxed material, from the light gospel touch of "Try Something New (I Do)" to the acoustic jazz setting in "Mami Loves You." Most of the highlights from Stewart's first two albums involved smart pairings with vocalists, and this set -- especially so, given its length -- could use a few of them. A handful of these songs do stand with the best of Floetic Soul and Floetry Re:Birth, including the sunlit opener "Feel Good," the gently uplifting "On It," and modern quiet storm ballad "Good Love."

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