Donning not only a hugely personal but also prolific street credibility is just one of the many assets provided by 60’s and 70’s Soul idol, Bobby Womack. From hits like, “Across 110th Street” seen in Tarantino movies to “Lookin for a Love” which is held up as one of the best Funk/Soul hits of the 1970’s, Womack finds himself amongst the quintessential R&B voices of our time. There is a seasoned beauty to his seemingly untouched vibrato. Unaffected by years of substance addiction and personal misfortune, the sultry magic of Womack’s voice on his brand new full-length album, The Bravest Man in the Universe stands the test of time and equally promotes a redemptive, personally gripping testimony.
Dubbed boldly as a “gospel electronic album”, The Bravest Man in the Universe doesn’t need much of a buffer as it quietly approaches its essence with backing tracks, loops, bouts of acoustic guitar and piano all holistically orbiting around the central component of the album, Womack’s unblemished vocals. There is an unquenchable thirst in his voice where he strains just enough to convey emotion but not enough to let you in on everything he’s got. The title track sparks with a hauntingly poignant catchphrase that in my opinion catches the listener’s attention without harnessing any honesty. It states, “The bravest man in the universe is the one who has forgiven first.” Womack’s growth not only as a human being, but as a musician is unwavering at the least. He is seeking something greater than himself and it shows fervently throughout the entire release. Musically I believe this release appeals to the pop crowd with its electronic elegance, but his voice stands uncontested and coexistent to the first note ever sang by Womack. The last track on the album, “Jubilee” perfectly executes a final push with a choir and funk driven vocal melody. His voice coupled with shimmering piano backing and ghost note grooves give this album a nice tone without losing any of the soul.
Being his first release of almost entirely personally written songs in over 18 years, one would imagine a sense of elementary and technically corroded characteristics but I see none of that being an issue. Recruiting artists such as hipster goddess, Lana Del Ray, jazz/soul pioneer Gil Scott Heron and Malian artist Fatoumata Diawara is also a testament to not only his broad range of influence but renewed sense of what his music means to him. It is quite a daunting task to encapsulate what this album is, in a single sentence or phrase. But there is a tradition present that has stuck through the years and remains untarnished. Consistently throughout the album there is a sense that he has been through darkness, but it is because of that darkness that he fully appreciates the light. It is ultimately the redemptive substance to his lyrics and demeanor that is incredibly endearing and will prove to make Womack the bravest man in the universe. The Bravest Man in the Universe was released on XL Recordings on Tuesday, June 12th.