Omarr Awake – Time Spent In The Machine
From the first notes he sings over the popping bassline in “Dynamite Parasite,” former Slow Car Crash alumnus Omarr Awake delivers a retro funk reminiscent of the laid-back sass of Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. There’s something very refreshing to me about that sound: an optimism that says it’s a good idea to stay up all night dancing. His voice is smooth, passionate, and punchy, and the horns and guitar scattered over the bouncing low end are as fresh today as they were in the era they invoke. Not every song on Time Spent In The Machine pays such homage, however. “To Carry You Home” takes that optimism and lays a burden of experience on its shoulders. It’s the city, the industry, and the tempered hope of a young artist, all in musical form. “In Control Of Just One Soul” is in the same vein, but it also carries a message of acceptance that opens a window to its environment. Listening to it, I felt a sense of being right in the groove of life as his voice crooned along over an easy acoustic guitar and drum track. “Sadness” slinked in like a regular in a smoky jazz club, watching his old love laughing with her new man through the bottom of a glass. The machine in question seems to wind down from a bumping party to a rainy day with a big fuzzy blanket. I can’t help wondering if the progression of tracks on the album was a metaphor for life after leaving the party scene of Chico in the ‘90s, the oddly empowering disillusionment of navigating the music industry and life in big cities, and the basic humanity that matters most in the end.