Whenever the spirit calls her, Georgia Anne Muldrow is unafraid to go against the mainstream musical grain. Through her ambitious body of work on several underground record labels—for a combined seven projects—in her very young career, the singer/songwriter/musician never wastes any opportunity on speaking her mind on spirituality, self-doubt and the human race, or in expressing her instrumental prowess. Though she has worked in the commercial realm with Erykah Badu and Bilal, Muldrow absolutely marches to her own drummer by changing up beats, mix and matching genres or flirting with minimalism, sometimes within a heartbeat. In other words, Muldrow’s solo artistry simply knows no boundaries, marrying several genres in the process, from neo-soul and funk grooves to free jazz excursions and experimental electronica. Her musicianship is indeed her own playground, and her indescribable flights have befuddled many critics.
On her latest and sophomore effort for animatedcartunes, Owed to Mama Rickie, Muldrow centers on poignant themes in paying homage to one of her musical and spiritual inspirations, her mother, Rickie Byars-Beckwith. Considered one of her more conventional projects, Owed to Mama Rickie is chock full of self-esteem and faith messages in a primarily cosmic groove soundtrack. Owed to Mama Rickie offers a few neo soulful pleasing moments beginning with “Dr. Feelgood,” stating a case for the weak to become aware of troubling circumstances and “EZ Duz It,” a captivating narrative about everyday life in the neighborhood and keeping one’s head up even under gruesome circumstances: “But, you sure can’t blame it on the day.” “More & More,” featuring a cameo by Bilal, preaches about the benefits of loving one another and staying comfortable in one’s own skin. This track is also available in a remix form that surpasses the original version for a more enlightening gospel blues celebration; church organ, tambourine and all. “Whollyspirit” transforms praise into a free jazz extravaganza accented by scats and atonal harmonies; accompanied by soft disco rhythms.
Though the pros outweigh the cons on Owed to Mama Rickie, Muldrow’s digressions are sometimes a major distraction. Most noticeable in the latter category are “Zulu (The Mind)” that lyrically meanders, “All in All” muddled with lame chanting and way too much filler and “The Key” which runs out of steam early on because of the weak connection between the lead and multi-layered harmonies. Yet, compared with much of her previous work, Owed to Mama Rickie reveals Muldrow possesses an extraordinary musical thought process when the risk-taking does not go overboard.
Other Notable Songs: “Jump Rope Song” and “Moonsong Lullabye”
Music: 2.5 stars
Vocals: 2.5 stars
Lyrics: 2.5 stars
Production: 3.0 stars
SoulTracks Call: Recommended
By Peggy Oliver