Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Barrett Staples, an artist who draws influence from jazz, soul and R&B. While he’s been working to make a career as an entrepreneur focusing on the future of technology and sustainability, he’s been releasing music, too. ‘That Yonder,’ his sophomore EP, is available now. Is the Seattle-based musician's newest effort worth picking up? Let’s delve into and find out.
Staples’ brand of indie music is indeed doused heavily in jazz, soul, and R&B. He doesn’t cite hip hop, though, which is odd, because his sound is ultimately rooted in it. The opening to ‘That Yonder,’ a tune entitled ‘Nova,’ is a hip hop song in the vein of Frank Ocean. It’s atmospheric, highly suave, and tinged in dream pop musings. Staples is entirely natural and swift-footed in his execution, making the tactful lyrical content of ‘Nova’ entirely enthralling to dig into.
‘Spindrift,’ as some critics would state, is a particularly “chill” track. It’s the kind of tune one could spin in the backdrop effortlessly and melt into their own mind’s eye. The production is especially beautiful, complementing Staples without ostentatiously falling off the deep-end as much indie hip hop production has a tendency to do. “It ain’t about what it takes, you just can’t let it break you down,” Staples sings of life in the infectiously memorable hooks.
Staples begins to show his chops on ‘Right Way,’ a track that’s masterfully executed with razor sharp lyricism and vocal delivery. The performer’s delivery is reminiscent of, perhaps, Big Sean. This is then further enhanced by the surreal ‘All Right,’ the song that closes out the EP. It’s the most soul-heavy track of the bunch, and Staples’ somber, introspective lyricism is, in truth, as haunting as it is beautiful. (Oh, and don’t even get me started on that cello in the middle of the song: it’s jaw-droppingly stunning.)
‘That Yonder’ is a superb record, especially considering its the second EP release from a performer who isn’t even pursuing music full time. It’s well worth a listen; support and connect with Barrett Staples below.
Twitter & Instagram: @BarrettStaples