Music has always had healing qualities. The ability to get lost in a song, while stress and problems melt away can be a truly therapeutic endeavor.
Alternative R&B group Moonchild, consisting of multi-instrumentalists Amber Navran, Max Bryk and Andris Mattson, takes the listener on an calming and experimental journey throughout their latest full-length album, “Little Ghost.”
On opening track “Wise Women,” lead singer Navran softly ushers the listener to get in the right frame of mind for the album.
“Healing time lends a hand, but you’ve got to let go what you’re holding in. It’d be nice, It’s all pretend, Wise women won’t wait for the now and then.”
R&B/Soul to some may conjure images of Aretha Franklin or even Marvin Gaye, but make no mistake, Moonchild are not your uncle’s R&B group.
Hanging over tracks like “Everything I Need,” is a popping, repetitive bass line that drives the song, similar in style to L.A. native Thundercat.
As the listener starts to acclimate to the bass, Andris Mattson (trumpet, flugelhorn, keyboards) gives you a taste of his fluglehorn chops, which in tandem with Hip-hop style slow drum beats, almost morphs into a meditative raga.
“Money” is a track that “Tackles the universal struggle of overcoming self-doubt as an artist, in order to create something truly remarkable,” Navran said, via the band’s bandcamp page.
With lyrics such as, “There’s coffee in the coffee maker, You’ve always got so much (expletive) to do, Still paralyzed by expectations, A dream’s supposed to get you through (Mmm),” being delivered with Navran’s whispy, yet velvety-smooth vocals, the listener finds the California-based trio experimenting with deep lyrical concepts about life and love, while striking a perfect output of work between members.
“The three of us are always experimenting with new programs and gear and trying to improve our craft individually,” Mattson said, via the bandcamp page. “I’ve been so into guitar, so that’s a big shift from previous Moonchild albums. The acoustic and ukulele really expanded our sound. The keyboard-driven sounds and horns are still there, but they’re intertwined with guitar.”
Continuing the theme of teamwork, “Come over” is a must hear track. If for no other reason, than because the song features three separate horn solos, featuring each band member, with one following the next. On how many other tracks can a listener say they heard “dueling” clarinets, fluglehorns and flutes?
Finally, to close out the album, Moonchild delves into classic R&B territory on “Still Wonder.” Over cascading synths, in a slow “end-of-night” groove, Navran remarks almost hypnotically, “And you still wonder, How I fell for you, (How I fell for you, how I fell for you), And you still wonder, How I fell for you, (How I fell for you, how I fell for you)” as piano keys softly conclude the album’s outro.
Having already gained a following with previous efforts, Moonchild returns stronger than ever with their fourth full-length album “Little Ghost.” While the skeletal structure of the effort is of an R&B record, “Little Ghost” features layered sounds, equally contributed from each member that draws from multiple genres. From Electronic and Pop, to R&B and Atmospheric, each offering is so balanced and well executed, the group may officially be charting new musical territory.