I've always been a big fan of albums where the artist creates a musical theme or vibe that organically and seamlessly weaves the tracks together. For me, these are musical creations where the sequence of the tracks is intrinsic to the listening experience. They're albums that are meant to be taken in and appreciated in their entirety. Forward, the impressive sophomore album from Gede, the rock 'n roll/electronica project of James Gilliam, is a striking case in point.
Featuring a fresh and unique blend of rap, hooks, guitars, and beats, Forward pushes boundaries and combines genres in a style true to Washington, D.C. Hailing from the fringes of Washington, D.C., Gede takes classic sounds and puts them through a prism of the District, combining big beats with distorted guitars, a rotating cast of singers and rappers, and driving bass with the percussion of D.C.’s Go-Go.
Pulling from a wide range of influences including Tame Impala, Anderson Paak, Sturgill Simpson, Khruangbin, Gary Clark Jr., ZZ Top, and Rush, Forward realizes what it means to be #UmamiMusic. Beyond these noted influences, I find several other parallels to musical interests of my past and present - including bits and hints of Thievery Corporation, Faithless, Colourbox, Röyksopp, and Jimi Hendrix.
The entire Forward musical experience is impressive - solid songwriting, exceptional vocals, clean production and mix. Standout tracks include "Sinners," "Truth," "Blurry," and "The Distance." Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, this is one of those superb and entrancing musical works that demands a repeat listen.