Funk-Jazz, Meet Pop
Hailing from Hollywood, Miles Mosley is a jack of all trades within the music industry. Known for his talents with an upright bass, Mosley is also a composer, producer, pianist, guitarist and vocalist. He was named one of the ‘Top 10 New Artists You Need To Know’ by Rolling Stone and one of Vanity Fair’s Rising Stars. Uprising is the first solo album from the musician since his 2007 album, Bear. The veteran bassist has kept busy over the years touring and collaborating with Christina Aguilera, Andra Day and Jason Mraz, to name a few. His most recent credit was for Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy-winning album To Pimp A Butterfly, for which he recorded three tracks. Mosley is also a founding member of Los Angeles-based group West Coast Get Down, joining forces with some of the most acclaimed musicians in the world.
Mosley brings the best of the collective back for Uprising. “The West Coast Get Down, the strings, the choir. All of these elements together create something with memorable melodies and a message to the people that we are here for them,” Mosley said in a press release. The leading single, “Abraham,” was named one of the ‘Top 100 Songs of 2016’ by NPR. The song, named after the Biblical prophet, is held together by repetitive staccato piano chords, a wonky bass and a horn section that adds purpose to the otherwise melancholy sound of revolution. “It seems fitting that this new attention to our sound, and the impact that we are capable of making across genres feels like our own uprising. This is my piece of our story,” Mosley explains.
The follow-up single, “Young Lion,” opens the album with an explosive fusion of funk and jazz. Mosley gets real with the lyrics, “thank God for me, ain’t nothin’ been funky since ’73.” The singer wails on “Heartbreaking Efforts Of Others” and keeps with the trend through “Sky High,” where he sings of “getting old in a young man’s game.” The album ends with “Fire,” which creeps to a start with a cosmic electronic melody that quickly rises to a crescendo filled with playful piano, marching band drums and blaring trumpets. Mosley breaks through the noise, “nothing can touch me ‘cause I’m on fire,” and female backup singers weakly echo back. “Fire” does the most genre-blending, as the percussion sways toward a Latin tango sound midway through, yet stays true to Mosley’s jazz roots.
Mosley is a musician’s musician, but that doesn’t guarantee mainstream success. The album tells a narrative that is bold and relevant, but it lacks the polished production listeners are looking for in a pop record. Uprising is an incredible work instrumentally, but Mosley’s vocals never soar beyond average to fully carry the album. Mosley grooves like Motown and jams like Jimi Hendrix, but it doesn’t translate to Top 40.