Icebird: The Abandoned Lullaby

Icebird, RJD2, Aaron LivingstonIcebird: The Abandoned Lullaby
Although the neo-soul genre can trace its roots back to the 80s, the term itself was coined in the late 90s for acts like Eryka Badu and Lauryn Hill. Throughout last decade the genre continued success with artists like John Legend, Amy Winehouse, and Cee-Lo Green. Cee-Lo, arguably, has had the largest neo-soul success with “Fuck You” and Gnarls Barkley‘s “Crazy.” In the same vein as Gnarls Barkley comes Icebird, a collaboration between acclaimed producer RJD2 and vocalist Aaron Livingston.
Though nothing on the duo’s debut The Abandoned Lullaby is as gripping as “Crazy,” the album does serve up many noteworthy tracks. Opening track “Charmed Life” is probably the closest to “Crazy” the album gets. The instrumental is minimalist, based around a single shrill piano note with a bass piano line laid over it. The track’s stripped down instrumental that lets Livingston’s vocals shine. But Livingston’s vocals shine in a very different way than Cee-Lo’s. Livingston’s voice is not nearly as strong and there is a little raspiness in them which gives a sense of vulnerability.
This vulnerability lets Livingston handle tracks like “Wander” with ease. The track sounds tailor made for a vocalist like Macy Gray but Livingston proves to be a worthy stand in.
Livingston’s vocal performance can not save every track on the album. The largely acoustic “In Exile” sounds like an outtake from RJD2’s critically panned 2007 album, The Third Hand. “Gun For Hire” drops the neo-soul pathos in favor of a vast electronic sound and the gamble does not pay dividends.
Luckily the gambles on the album are kept to a minimum. The duo sticks to their bread-and-butter neo-soul jams and it turns into a surprisingly pleasant debut album.
Rating: 7.5/10
MP3: Icebird “Charmed Life”
Buy: iTunes

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