The Bravest Man in the Universe, soul great Bobby Womack’s first album of original songs in 18 years, is out next week. We’ve previously heard the wonderful title track as well as the futuristic R&B of ‘Please Forgive My Heart‘, and now thanks to NPR you can stream the entire LP. Co-produced by Britpop renaissance man Damon Albarn (who collaborated with Womack on Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach and The Fall), and XL Records owner/producer Richard Russell, The Bravest Man in the Universe finds Womack reinventing himself in much the same fashion as Gil Scott-Heron’s superb 2010 LP I’m New Here (another Russell production). Much like Scott-Heron’s final album, here Womack’s scragglier-than-ever yet still remarkable voice is placed front and centre over some stark, ghostly electronic tracks. Many of the tracks have a minimalist feel, with a lot of breath between Womack’s vocals, Albarn’s keys, and Russell’s samples (notably Sam Cooke and Scott-Heron). It’s an effective collaboration, especially on the more contemplative numbers (‘Please Forgive My Heart’, ‘Deep River’), and the producer super-duo bring out the best in young Lana Del Rey on the beautiful, jazzy duet ‘Dayglo Reflection’, which ranks with her best work. Unlike Scott-Heron, Womack is not all regrets here, showcasing his feisty spirit on upbeat tracks such as ‘Love is Gonna Lift You Up’ and the rousing album closer ‘Jubilee’. The Bravest Man in the Universe is both a satisfying blend of old and new soul and a fascinating meeting of the minds of two generations of talented artists, but more than that it marks an impressive and well-deserved comeback for one of America’s great voices.
The Bravest Man in the Universe is out June 12. Stream the LP below (via NPR).
For a previous post on Bobby Womack, follow the link below: