Chris Dave And The Drumhedz

Chris Dave And The Drumhedz

Blue Note Records, 2018

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Chris Dave is actually a drummer – a real good one, in fact. So good that Rolling Stone named him as one of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time, and he's sat behind the kit for artists like Adele, Bieber, and Dolly, though his regular gig is in D'Angelo's band.

On this first album, Dave brings in many, many guests, including DJ Jazzy Jeff, James Poyser (The Roots), and Stokley Williams (Mint Condition), among many others. And with so much talent on hand, it's no surprise that each song here explores a variety of sounds and styles, often all within each track. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album starts with the spacey “Rock Crying,” where it seems like three tunes are playing at once: an R&B, a hip-hip, and a soulful rock one. “Universal Language” follows with a similar approach, though it is more heavily rooted in soulful hip-hop, before the percussion heavy and upbeat sounds of “Dat Feelin',” which is primarily instrumental and possesses more of a jam band quality. “Black Hole” then gets ever busier with horns and plenty of funky spirit.

The middle of the disc offers us a bit of a break from the hectic earlier tunes. “Spread Her Wings” brings the tempos back to a lush, romantic atmosphere with stunning female vocals, and Mint Condition's Stokley Williams brings us some of the best vocal work on the ultra-soulful “Cosmic Intercourse.”

Near the end, “Job Well Done” is the last song with vocals; this spazzy dance track abruptly moves from video game noises into a sophisticated, warm R&B stunner with seductive vocals from Anna Wise. The last two tracks are where things change dramatically: “Lady Jane” is a key-friendly mix of experimental psych-rock sans vocals, and “Trippy Tipsy” closes the album out with a quick and blurry mix of horns and atmosphere in an instrumental jazz fusion.

Not so surprisingly, there are 50+ voices on this album on the first 13 tunes alone. Combine that with a flurry of horns, percussion, and the complicated nature of the songwriting, and things can get a bit heavy to digest. Fortunately, the end of the album helps balance things out with some less congested  efforts, which were certainly the highlights for me.

Rating: B-

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