Whether he is doing standup comedy, making movies or music under the pseudonym of Childish Gambino, it’s impossible not to be impressed by Donald Glover.
As a versatile artist, Glover’s newest piece of art- a Soul/R&B album titled Awaken, My Love! – takes an entirely new road compared to his previous rap works, making it hard to believe that it’s the same artist.
The album has a straight funk sound, bringing back 70s and 80s soul sounds with revitalized modern touches like autotune, making it a “perfected spice,” as Youtube personality Anthony Fantano would put it.
Awaken, My Love! is a gratifying album. It brings phenomenal instrumentals, clear-cut production with sleek, sharp guitars and a textured bass that creates waves of emotion. It is as though the listeners were floating in the abyss that is the cosmos, creating a work of musical brilliance.
The album is evidently divided into two parts: The first part is a hard-hitting, dark and ambitious start. The second half consists of a slower, more emotional take, creating a clear contrast with the opening tracks.
“Me and your Mama” is the start to the first half of the album. It begins with the buildup of a soft chorus, which is then cut by a sharp guitar and Glover’s showing of different-pitched vocals on a soft 808s beat.
“Redbone,” the following track, has a sensual and soulful sound that arouses and fills us with passion. He, once again, demonstrates his ability to sing high pitched notes with ease and hum that shakes the soul.
“Zombies,” which is one of the creepier tracks, creates dark grooves with the guitar topped with a distorted autotuned voice. With lyrics like, “They can smell your money and they want your soul,” the lyrical content of the song portrays zombies as a metaphor for toxic people in your life who use you for the money and benefits.
“Boogieman,” a track of social awareness, presents the issue of racial tensions of a black man with a gun in his hand being visualized as the bogeyman who is “gonna come and get cha.” This is also one of the more eerie tracks with maniacal laughter topped on an ebullient beat.
“Riot,” which concludes the first half of the album, is the most intense song on the album. It’s filled with a sharp guitar and Glover’s high pitched notes, with intense rolling percussions giving off psychedelic energy.The latter half of the album takes a more somber, emotional route with tracks like “Terrified” that carry heavy bass strums along with the soft sounds of the xylophone that soothe the listener.“Baby Boy” is one of the more personal tracks. Glover is speaking directly to his newborn son about his troubles and crumbling relationship with his mother. “Momma cries from Daddy’s lie” highlights the current tensions between the two, as Glover pleads “please don’t take him away.”
“Have Some Love,” the most positive of the tracks, is about finding time to love one another. With its groovy bass and chorus, the song spreads the idea that everyone has the “power” to have some love.
“California,” a track that is seemingly out of place, holds an island surfer vibe with a rhythmic guitar and maracas, along with a calypso beat and extremely autotuned vocals. It adds a perfectly timed comic levity to the album’s heavy soul odyssey.
“Stand Tall,” another enlightening track, brings the album to a gratifying conclusion. The closing curtain carries a positive attitude, with Glover telling us to “Keep all your dreams,” adding, “if you are strong, you cannot fall.”
The new retro-futurist funk artist that Glover has become has seemingly created an entirely new sub-genre of soul music through the complexity and perfection he has reached. His scope and range of pitch is undeniable, as he embodies unity and love through the artistry and grandiosity of this album.
By Dru Barcelo