The Bravest Man in the Universe
Jun 11, 2012 Issue #41 - Yeasayer
Any fan of soul has to be thankful for Damon Albarn entering the life of Bobby Womack. Not only did Albarn feature Womack on a couple of Gorillaz tunes from Plastic Beach, but he also co-produced the veteran soul man's first album of new material in 18 years. In 37 tidy minutes, Womack both returns to form, on the luscious slow burn "Deep River," and mines new territory, on "Dayglo Reflection," featuring guest vocals by none other than Lana Del Rey.
Womack's yearning voice contrasts nicely with Del Rey's relaxed croon. They're backed by a stuttering beat and anxious percussion, which gets softened by some lovely piano and the strings that announce Del Rey's arrival. It's a fantastic song, and contains a bit more spark than some of the rest of the record. Womack lifts the confessional "Please Forgive My Heart" above the busy instrumentation, and the two don't fully mesh. This is a rare overreach on the part of Albarn and co-producer Richard Russell, who mostly keep Womack's voice in the spotlight.
Few voices have been able to reach the emotional heights of Bobby Womack's, and he infuses The Bravest Man in the Universe with every ounce of his lost time, wailing "Whatever happened to those good times?" on the heartbreaking "Sweet Baby Mine." The buoyant "Love is Gonna Lift You Up," however, shows that Womack has hope yet, and this excellent return should serve as nothing but a hopeful reminder that all is never lost. (www.bobbywomack.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 7/10