Thursday, November 17, 2011


By Steve Jones.

While everybody is still riding that R&B revivalism train (and for good reason), I have a new project for everybody to keep their eyes on.  They're called OG Melody, and they are purveyors of some of the smoothest tracks you will hear this year.

OG Melody is a collaboration between two Toronto-based musicians, Thom Gill and Isla Craig.  What sets them apart from similar contemporary artists, such as Drake, The Weeknd, and Mayer Hawthorne, is that their approach to soul and R&B is adventurous and experimental without losing sight of the attractively relaxed qualities of these styles.  Their first and so far only release, the OG Melody EP released this October, demonstrates this project to be a bold and faithful one.

The first track, "Set Adrift" sounds like a classic piece of early '90s R&B, with the exact synth noise and the slow yet danceable beat.  This track, along with "Change Gon Come," also highlights one of the massive strengths of OG Melody, namely its vocals.  We are treated with some lovely duets between the male and female voices.  Thom's voice is breathy and crooning in a way that adds an element of intimacy to his delivery, like he is speaking inches from your ear.  Isla's voice, while not exactly "powerful," is still really strong, displaying impressive range and a sexily underspoken timbre.  There is not a hint of autotune here--just two talented vocalists playing off each other nicely.  "OG Realness" includes guest vocalist Felicity Williams, and it would probably qualify as the EP's leading single, since it easily has the most infectious beat, melody, and sensuality out of all of the tracks. 

My favorite moments on this EP, however, are those where OG Melody set themselves apart with their willingness to experiment.  "Take You Home," for instance, is a slow-moving, ethereal, and trance-like piece.  Isla's vocals are processed and layered to create a ghostly background behind an unmistakably soulful melody.  At seven minutes, I think this experiment goes a little long, but I still appreciated the sonic changeup.  "In the Morning," adds an element of electronic exploration, with scattered percussion and mutating synth chords, which eventually turns into a noisy electroclash song for about a minute.  It's unexpected, but it works, and it reminds me a lot of the similarly excellent CANT album Dreams Come True.

Overall, OG Melody have a strong sense of songwriting paired with a fresh sense of playfulness.  As a person who believes revivalism should be tempered with an appreciable amount of innovation, I think OG Melody is exactly the kind of project people should be paying attention to.  While this EP isn't perfect and drags a bit towards the middle, it exhibits extraordinary potential and makes me excited for whatever piece of smoothness comes next from Isla and Thom.

Score: Strong/Smooth 7

Below you can stream/buy the smoothest of jams:

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