Darnell Levine - Journal Entries EP (2008)

Darnell Levine
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Seeming to spring into the consciousness of soulheads around the US a couple years ago, Nashville singer Darnell Levine turned quite a few heads with his debut CD, We Gon' Use What We Got.  Bearing obvious comparisons to Bobby McFerrin, Levine combined solid songwriting with a multi-layered, sometimes ostentatious, vocal performance that gave him a mild underground hit disc -- enough, at least, to make his name recognizable as he played gigs East of the Mississippi.

Seeming to spring into the consciousness of soulheads around the US a couple years ago, Nashville singer Darnell Levine turned quite a few heads with his debut CD, We Gon' Use What We Got.  Bearing obvious comparisons to Bobby McFerrin, Levine combined solid songwriting with a multi-layered, sometimes ostentatious, vocal performance that gave him a mild underground hit disc -- enough, at least, to make his name recognizable as he played gigs East of the Mississippi.

Wanting to get back in the studio, but without the funds for an elaborate new recording that couldn't be replicated onstage, Levine has literally gotten personal, issuing a six-track EP straight from his own diary, and featuring only his voice, his piano, and the bass work of friend Jerry Navarro.  The resulting disc, aptly titled Journal Entries, reaffirms what we thought about Darnell Levine after his first disc: This is one talented guy who will likely never be "mainstream" but who should win a number of soul and jazz fans with his extremely enjoyable eclecticism.

Consciously writing from a totally personal perspective on Journal Entries, Levine lays out interesting, often amusing songs, from the rising musician's plea on the infectious "Shrink Me Up" to the mildly motivational "Red, Yellow, Green," perhaps the album's best cut.  The tunes, as on his debut, are absolutely solid, and generally survive well their baring by the sparse arrangements.  And Levine has appropriately pared his vocal gymnastics on Journal Entries, providing just the right tone to his acoustic surroundings.

Journal Entries likely won't be the disc that makes Darnell Levine a household name.  But it is an extremely worthy release that should satisfy his current fans and could, with the right breaks, gather him some new ones from adult listeners looking for something creative and consistently enjoyable off the beaten path.

By Chris Rizik

 

 
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