Bar Exam: adriansings – Odyssey (Album)
A One Listen Album Review
The first time I heard “adriansings” he wasn’t even on my radar. He submitted his music for review in July and I proceeded to give him an “At The Bar” rating on the bar exam. I cited “a big dip in energy and suspect creative direction” as things that kept that project from being above the bar. Today I’m excited to hear if he took my advice. Last week he dropped his second project of 2018, entitled “Odyssey” and I’m pleased to be sitting here with another bar exam for you. Let’s take a dive.
Lost – Slow burning intro on this one with a melody being repeated over the top “I’ve been so lost in my mind.” Adrian brings some chilling vocals for verse one, although the song doesn’t feel like it’s settled in yet. There’s tension in the production as well as the subject matter, bringing some uneasiness to this “mind outta control” theme. I know a lot of people in my own life who deal with anxiety, and adrian pulls at the struggle here in a palatable way that also points to Jesus.
God In Me – “They’ve been sleeping on me like the lights out… everything you see is God in me.” adriansings flows with confidence about what God has given him here. The beat is clean, the hand off to the Britton feature was a little clunky. The hook here is solid, but I’d say this track leaves a bit more to be desired.
Vibes – “I’ve got the sauce like I’m Heinz.” Adrian spits with confidence about his pride, drops a lot of wordplay, switches up his flow and shows the different levels he can bring. Is that a reference to Rihanna and Andy Mineo in one verse? This is a fun, upbeat track that will definitely be revisited. I’m going to need some more depth here or I’m going to start tuning this music out.
Up Or Down – The instrumental on “Up or Down,” much like the previous tracks is fast paced, but it’s laced with an incredibly catchy melody. Everything is smooth and fits together beautifully. He jumps into the first verse with a versatile flow where he starts with triplets and ends up bobbing and weaving with some pauses and emphasis all in the right spots.
“Still broke but I feel rich like my first name Buddy/yeah I got hashtags but no price tags and I’m still a slave to money/So where can I go when I’m all alone/Maybe the pills and maybe the blow/Hop in the whip and swerve on the low/Momma been praying I make it back home/…I’m on my grind like it’s my time/See em hate but I don’t mind cuz I’m alive/This flow is dead though/It’s fine I ride the wave until it’s mine/I gotta shine what you expect when it’s a part of me”
Seriously the dude elevated on this flow right here. One of the best verses I’ve heard in a long minute from an execution perspective. Terrific.
Paranoid – There’s an overarching tone of dealing with mind games, mental health, anxiety, doubt, and now paranoia. These types of themes aren’t necessarily new topics at the moment, but I will say that the overall sound and feel of “Odyssey” so far isn’t as dark as you would expect a project to be that touches on such topics. The textures on this tune have changed from the more ethereal to very pointed and straight up hip-hop. The horns and the bass line on this one swing back and forth, and adriansings rips off an introspective and honest couple of verses here. “I don’t trust nobody cuz nobody ever stayed.”
Changes – Within the confines of this tune adriansings is trying to find fulfillment. The mood here is a bit emotional, and with an ominous trumpet weaved into the instrumental it’s also a bit mysterious. There are so many things that can happen in your life that can change you. You don’t really know if it’s for better or worse until you’re on the other side of the storm.
“I can’t change all the things that I want to/Who can stop a hurricane when it blows through?”
Asteroid Blues (Interlude) – Alright usually when I see an interlude I’m ready to skim through it. This is a fake out. “Asteroid Blues” is a legit song. We begin with a little soul sample, then what sounds like a skit comes in over the top, but then we move into a verse. It’s a hot verse too.
“I used to lose sleep in the dark nights/now I’m Batman wanna hide in it/A bounty hunter is never satisfied/It’s always one job to the next/That’s why I fly high in the bebop/Space cowboy like with the steps”
It’s not a polished flow here, but it sounds nice, it’s down to earth and personable. I think he said his girlfriend left him when he wrote this one. So far, the “Odyssey” the album title is alluding to is this battle of doubt and hope, of peaks and valleys. He’s articulating it all quite well.
Let It Shine – This instrumental at the beginning sounds like it belongs on a Jay-Z album. Adrian’s first verse here seems a bit forced. The start of it comes out of nowhere and then I didn’t feel like I could trust the switch to the melody at the end of the flow. The hook is solid, and Ruslan’s verse is great. This song gives me mixed feelings. I’d say it’s at the bar.
Stargaze – This project is layered with so many modern vibes that 2014 me might disown me for digging it. I really feel that the production throughout is fluid and really appreciate how the concepts and topics bleed into each other. “Stargaze” should be digested like a modern psalm. It is fresh, heartfelt, and at once God-seeking.
Found – The top of this one has the shaft of light breaking through the windows as the crack of dawn, with the chimes and the birds singing. It’s very “on-the-nose” for me, but I see what he’s trying to do here. I really enjoy the intentionality here, but the intro to this song was juuuust a bit extra for me. Once we’re into the tune, he’s bringing all melodies. The pacing and the momentum of the song keeps me intrigued. The melody rises as the song progresses and concludes in a happy and hopeful place.
To conclude, the final track of this album wrapped everything up in a bow as predictably as a hallmark movie. Now that I’ve got that one thought out of the way, I really have to say that adriansings delivered an outstanding effort here. These two tracks may even stack up against some of the best “album of the year” candidates. A bold claim I know, but at first listen, “Odyssey” has the precise formula needed to pull off that feat – bars, catchy hooks, little to no slumps, terrific performances, features that enhance and don’t overshadow the main artist, fluidity between songs, and top notch musical production. I can’t say enough. Maybe he’s not on your radar yet, but he needs to be. This man is about to blow. Go buy this album, stream it, share it with your friends.
Overall Rating: Above The Bar