George of All Trades
In Boy George’s newest album, titled This Is What I Do, it is difficult to figure out exactly what it is he does. The short and simple answer is that he makes music. What kind of music is another story completely. From the lead single, “King of Everything,” to the reggae style of “My Star” and his bluesy cover of John Lennon’s “Death of Samantha,” the album conquers many genres.
“King of Everything” is a comeback tale. “What’s the word on the street / Have I lost my crown? / Will I be king again?” Boy George’s vocals on the track make the story believable— raspy, considerably low tones and sounding completely defeated. The same characteristics fit on the track “Death of Samantha.” We find “Samantha” struggling to deal with accepting a crisis of identity: “When I’m on the phone / I thank God / My voice sounds smooth and clear without a trace of fear.”
The opening beats of “My Star” completely shifts the tone of the album. The island feel and the guest verse by rapper Unknown MC were a little confusing at first, but the laid back sound of it all works. As the album nears the end, the final two tracks experiment with the final genre change. “Feel the Vibration” is repetitive with its lyrics (as in there are only a few lines to learn to sing the whole thing), but it plays with a few ideas: a chorus of voices sings the lines, Boy George’s vocals are almost non-existent and the instruments take over in what could be described as a jam session in space.
This Is What I Do pieces together songs that could easily be the B-sides to various albums— there’s almost no rhyme or reason for their cohesiveness, but they are individual gems. When considered as a whole, it is confusing and non-conforming (this is a Boy George project, after all), framed in its simple title.