Bobby McFerrin

Sony Masterworks, 2013


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Of course it's impossible to bring up Bobby McFerrin without mentioning his 1988 sensation "Don't Worry Be Happy." One of the most unique songs ever penned, the tune made McFerrin a household name and put his record sales into the prestigious triple platinum category. Since then, how many of us have kept up with his work? Probably very few. Turns out he's released over a dozen albums since 88, and recently, he has been trying to redefine Americana with his own creative vision. Containing seven classic spirituals, a Bob Dylan cover (“I Shall Be Released”), and five originals, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Spirityouall proves to be one of McFerrin's most eclectic outings as well as a tribute to his father Robert McFerrin, a great musician in his own right.

Three of the traditional tracks were also on Bobby's father's record: "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," "Fix Me Jesus," and "Every Time I Feel The Spirit.” But where his father sang from a more operatic standpoint, Bobby's versions come from a more loose, soulful, and playful place. The other traditionals also see a complete reworking, among them the glorious "Whole World," the jazzy and vocally acrobatic "Joshua," and smooth, lounge-like "Wade." His Dylan cover serves as one the best moments, using a nice vocal melody and aching pedal steel.

The second half of the album is especially diverse, with the swampy blues of "25:15" to the acoustic guitar based "Gracious" to the tender, life affirming "Jesus Makes It Good." Interestingly, the album ends on "Rest/Yes Indeed," which wouldn't be out of place at a dance down at the barn.

An extremely accomplished and spiritual listen (the album title is a play on the word 'spiritual'), nobody but McFerrin could pull off an album like this with such grand results. All the hallmarks of McFerrin's career are present, from his constant vocal fluctuations to this vast skill with several genres of music, resulting in a listen that has something for everyone.

Rating: B+

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