Hip-hop producers have been sampling soul and blues tracks since day 1 so it's actually surprising how rarely blues returns the favor. On Charlie Red's new EP Religion, the duo of producer Cobaine Ivory and singer/songwriter Rocky Evans use the language of hip-hop to create some dirty, soulful blues.
The EP is a crisis of faith, or rather, the result of a long and slow disillusionment with religion. “Remember when I was little / you always told me to listen / well now I'm no longer little / don't need to ask your permission” Rocky Evans sings on the awesome “Radiant Child.” Simultaneously nostalgic for a time when religion made things simple, while longing to “break free from it all.” It's a sentiment most of us coming of age in the past 20 years have experienced. (Remember when things were simple and we had all the answers? That was nice. But guess what, we were wrong about basically everything. Good luck!) In the hands of most artists that sentiment tends to lead to some pretty bleak material (see also: Nails, Nine Inch), but to their credit Charlie Red seems to find something almost joyous in abandoning the past.
Cobaine Ivory, rather than trying to live up to his namesake's abrasive beauty, seems to be trying to out-Danger Mouse Danger Mouse. And he often succeeds. The nuanced production on the EP is full of lovingly hand-sampled jagged drums and delicate horns fighting to come to the surface. Nowhere is he better than on the hauntingly elegant “Matter of Time.” While Rocky Evans questions his own mortality, Cobaine Ivory fills every inch of the sonic landscape with overdriven guitars and multi-tracked to death backing vocals. Like blues at it's best, it finds the personal in universal larger-than-life struggles, staring into the abyss and still coming away having found something beautiful.
You can download the whole EP for FREE via djbooth.net.