Carlos Truly - Not Mine Music Album Reviews

Carlos Truly - Not Mine Music Album Reviews
The Ava Luna singer delivers an excellent solo album of minimalist funk and R&B pared down to its barest essence.

Carlos Hernandez helped shape the Brooklyn music scene of the 2010s—as a denizen of the defunct DIY space Silent Barn, and as a producer and arranger for artists like Frankie Cosmos and Mr Twin Sister—but you may not know his name. As the bandleader and frequent lead singer of the perennially underrated Ava Luna, he never hogged the spotlight. The Brooklyn art-funk group operated more like a creative collective and talent incubator, with Hernandez routinely ceding the microphone to bandmates Becca Kauffman, who piloted the band’s kooky, theatrical side, and Felicia Douglass, whose versatile pipes channeled introspective soul. Hernandez could shriek and croon with the best of them, but as Ava Luna’s career progressed, his own voice became less prominent.

Now, with Ava Luna on hiatus since the 2019 departure of Kauffman (aka performance artist Jennifer Vanilla), Hernandez steps into the spotlight with an excellent solo album of minimalist funk and R&B pared down to its barest essence. Although he quietly self-released an album as Carlos Hernandez in 2018, Not Mine is the artist’s first under the Carlos Truly moniker and billed as his proper solo debut. It’s understated and warm, nimbly bridging the gap between the vintage soul influences embedded in everything Hernandez creates and the jagged hip-hop production by the artist’s brother, Tony Seltzer, who co-produced most of the record.

Never does this conjoining of worlds sound more revelatory than on the sizzling electro-funk workout “Dumb Desire.” Ava Luna sometimes described themselves as “nervous soul,” and that nervousness boils over into jittery intoxication on this ode to the terror of making one’s desires known to a crush. The track is syly addictive, with Seltzer’s escalating symphony of synth squiggles and boom-clap beats goading along Hernandez’s increasingly agitated vocal delivery, which includes stretching the word “fire” into a five-syllable anxiety swell. Leave it to Carlos Truly to make an introverted banger for the masses.

Hernandez’s voice—a honeyed soul croon—remains his purest asset. The son of a ’70s New York soul DJ, Hernandez grew up listening to Al Green on the subway, and you get the sense his engagement with sounds that predated his birth is more than casual. He self-harmonizes and reveals an enviable vocal range on “Your Sound,” which is, fittingly, an ode to the way a person’s voice can lodge itself in your memory; he wails in falsetto over the last chorus of “Why Suffer??” like only a seasoned Prince obsessive can. You can easily imagine the track’s supple funk, with its Stax-ready guitar tones, emanating from an old cassette deck on a sweltering day.

While Hernandez does not gravitate towards narrative songwriting, he does reveal more of himself in this music than Ava Luna’s. The band’s songs unfolded on faraway moons; Carlos Truly sings about his home city of New York. Inspired by adolescent memories of Central Park, the loop-driven “108th” is a nostalgic love story set against urban displacement and gentrification. The songwriting captures the tension between personal attachment to place and its utter triviality in the grand scheme of stolen land (“No, we can’t claim that old spot up by 108th/Even though that’s where we sat that third shift when you kissed me once”) as a string quartet consummates the track’s elegiac nostalgia.

Great albums are supposed to leave you wanting more, but Not Mine achieves this perhaps too well. At 23 minutes, it’s so brief as to feel a bit slight. Several tracks—particularly the 15-second piano curiosity “(my turn)” and the intriguingly tropical “A Strange Bird”—feel more like half-finished sketches; the album ends abruptly, too, with “Quietness” fading out after a minute and change. The brevity is a bit puzzling, since Hernandez left behind several neo-soul gems that appeared on 2020’s Canal EP. But perhaps recycling them felt like the wrong move. Not Mine is a tantalizing new start from a singer who has always recognized the virtues of stepping away from the mic.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Carlos Truly - Not Mine Music Album Reviews Carlos Truly - Not Mine Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, July 08, 2022 Rating: 5

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