Upon reading the first reviews for this album I was immediately intrigued. I bought the album and was instantly smitten with it. The story of Devonté Hynes, aka Blood Orange, and his second album.
Devonté Hynes, better known as Blood Orange, and before that as Lightspeed Champion, is an English singer, composer, producer, dancer and musician. He was a member of the (punk) band Test Icicles from 2004 to 2006, who released an album in 2005. Subsequently he released two records using the moniker Lightspeed Champion. To date he has released four albums as Blood Orange.
Changing in style is part of Hynes’ DNA. Ranging from punk to R&B: he has done it all full heartedly and with great results. He has developed into a popular producer as well. He wrote, played and produced for artists like Tinashe, Solange Knowles, Sky Ferreira, FKA twigs, Haim, Florence and the Machine, Carly Rae Jepsen, Diana Vickers, The Chemical Brothers, Kylie Minogue, A$AP Rocky and Blondie.
Hynes’s debut as Blood Orange was the release of the single Dinner in January of 2011. In August of that year the first album, Coastal Grooves was released. In November of 2013 Cupid Deluxe was released, followed by 2016’s Freetown Sound. Earlier this year Negro Swan was released.
On November 18th, 2013, Cupid Deluxe was released in physical form. The album had its worldwide debut six days earlier on iTunes. According to Hynes the album was inspired by “New York City, the Big Apple. I lived in Brooklyn for some time and finally made the leap into Manhattan. So a lot of the record is about that, transitions, life transitions. Moving from a stable position to an unstable position. Something we have all been through”.
With its 1980’s sound it seems as if the album has been around for years and years, yet it’s contemporary enough to be new. That contradiction makes the album stand out and highly enjoyable. That contradiction is also present between the music and the subjects. The R&B like songs regularly address heavy subjects.
A perfect example is the fantastic Uncle ACE, which contains several musical grooves and gets its name from “Uncle Ace’s house”, which stands for a safe-haven in New York for the almost 4000 young people who haven’t got a home (anymore). Many of them are gay, lesbian or transgender and have been renounced by their family. The term safe haven should be used loosely. “ACE” stands for the subway lines A, C and E in New York. The term “house” stands for the subway carts on those lines. Because the start- and endpoints of those lines are the furthest apart, the lines are used for sleep. One person stays awake and watches out for police and/or criminals, while the rest sleeps until the end of the line. A grim reality in New York.
Musically Uncle ACE gives no indication whatsoever about the heavy contents of the lyrics. The whole album is like that. A tribute to the under-belly of society, the outcasts and the forgotten.
The album highlights Hynes’ chameleon like qualities. He sings, writes, produces and plays guitar, bass, drums and synthesizer. There are only a handful of artists that can do what Hynes does at his level. The overall quality of what’s offered is very high.
I guess this doesn’t come as a surprise, but I think this album is worth your time and money. The songs, the beautiful production and the subjects make this album come highly recommended. Ever since I bought this album, I have followed Hynes/Blood Orange closely. He has yet to disappoint me.
All songs written by Devonté Hynes, unless stated otherwise.
- You’re Not Good Enough
- Uncle ACE
- No Right Thing
- It Is What It Is
- Clipped On
- Always Let U Down (Paul Draper and Dominic Chad)
- On the Line
- High Street
- Time Will Tell
- Devonté Hynes – vocals, all instruments
- Despot – vocals on Clipped On
- Dave Longstreth – vocals on No Right Thing
- Caroline Polachek – vocals on Chamakay, background vocals on Chosen
- Samantha Urbani – vocals on You’re Not Good Enough, No Right Thing, It Is What It Is, Chosen, Always Let U Down, On The Line, Time Will Tell
- Skepta – vocals on High Street
- David “DJ” Ginyard – bass
- Jason Arce – saxophones and clarinet
- Adam Bainbridge (Kindness) – vocals and drums on On The Line, Time Will Tell
- Tawiah – vocals on Time Will Tell
- Sam Beste – piano on Time Will Tell
- Blue May – guitar on Time Will Tell
Do you know Blood Orange and this album? What’s your opinion? Let me know!
Blood Orange – Time Will Tell (video) image: youtube.com
Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe image: stereogum.com
Devonté Hynes aka Blood Orange image: nytimes.com