Anthony David - The Powerful Now (2016)

Anthony David
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It wouldn’t be correct to define Anthony David solely by his protest songs because he’s given us some great duets, vulnerable, blues infused numbers and some funky stuff as well. Still, David could be considered one of this generation’s great protest singer/songwriters solely from the output on the album As Above, So Below. He addressed racial profiling and the fraught relationship between black men and law enforcement on “Crooked Cop” from his breakout debut Three Chords and the Truth, while gentrification in Atlanta is the topic of the title track on Red Clay Chronicles.

It wouldn’t be correct to define Anthony David solely by his protest songs because he’s given us some great duets, vulnerable, blues infused numbers and some funky stuff as well. Still, David could be considered one of this generation’s great protest singer/songwriters solely from the output on the album As Above, So Below. He addressed racial profiling and the fraught relationship between black men and law enforcement on “Crooked Cop” from his breakout debut Three Chords and the Truth, while gentrification in Atlanta is the topic of the title track on Red Clay Chronicles.

So with all that has transpired in the nation since the Grammy nominated artist’s last project – 2012’s Love Out Loud – one would expect David to include a few conscious cuts on The PowerFUL Now, his latest, and one would be right. However, David seeks to motivate rather than mobilize with the conscious tracks on his characteristically solid fifth project of original music.

A master storyteller, David begins The PowerFUL Now with “Ride On,” a fusion of funk with modern R&B production techniques, with the singer/songwriter setting a scene of a young man veering toward the streets: “Little boy raised in the ghetto/had a mind and a passion for game/gift of gab/man could he talk/he could sell umbrellas to rain/combined with the ability to throw them hands/what a wonderful thing/they talked about him on the west side/they heard about him on the south side.”

Are we heading for a story that ends tragically along the lines of the dark “Backstreet,” the cautionary tale that’s the final track on As Above, So Below? No, realization comes after too many trips to jail, too many images of a crying mother and a child he barely knows. The young man reorders his life and finds peace and freedom in the seat of his motorcycle. The title track finds David encouraging listeners to seize the day. “The past is gone and the future is yet to come/If you think too long/Time has already moved on.”

David takes us to church on “Ayodele,” a track that sports a gospel tinged piano arrangement and backing vocals and a message of uplift that is needed for a community confronting violence and racial hostility. The word “Ayodele” is a Yoruba phrase meaning joy has come home and the song’s message reminds listeners that joy comes home in the form of worldwide empathy and support.

David has a well-earned reputation for doing excellent work on duets, with hits such as “Words” and “4Ever More” to his credit. The PowerFUL Now features three strong duet numbers, with one of them, “Never Again,” also being among the album’s best tracks. This song has everything: jazz influenced piano arrangement that serves as the foundation for a wide open, mid-tempo arrangement giving ample space for a story of a woman, with fresh memories of heartache, wishing to end a relationship that David wants to renew. Along with the track “Out of My League,” “Never Again” stands as an album highlight.

Twelve years after his breakout debut, Anthony David has crafted a career that is the ideal of what an independent artist can become. Quality work allows him develop a following and that means his fans can count on a new project every three years. That project will be filled with substance and fans will forgive experimentations with autotone such as “I Don’t Mind” because that’s just Acey Duecy pushing the limits of creativity. And for every experiment that prompts a meh this soulful mad scientist drops a track like The PowerFUL Now’s “Out of My League” that makes us go WOW! Solidly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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