Anthony David – As Above, So Below | Album Review

Anthony David returns this February with a new studio album and I had the pleasure of checking it out ahead of time. Anthony David wastes no time and signals his intent from the get go with the title track, ‘As Above, So Below,’ which is a mellow number. Its atmospheric soundscape and melody compliment the lyric and contrast his raw vocals.

‘Let Me In’ features hard hitting swung drums, backed by swirling and swishing synths, in which Anthony David asks his subject to let down her guard. This song oozes Soul sensibility and along with Anthony’s Gospel vocal styling had my head bobbing, as did ‘Reach Ya,’ which despite it’s summery feel is a serious political commentary. It was also great to see that towards the end of the track that he gets his George Benson on, mirroring guitar lines with his voice.

The political commentary doesn’t stop there either. ‘What God Said’ is backed by military style drums and opens with the dialogue of Pat Robertson’s bizarre Haiti comments, setting the tone of the seriousness of the content. Anthony David provides us with his scrutiny of the thin line between religion and politics, also referring to those who were praying for Obama’s death midway through the track.

Anthony David’s cousin of Boyz II Men fame (and one of my favourite voices), Shawn Stockman, joins him on a cover of the Tears for Fears classic ‘Rule The World.’ This version musically doesn’t deviate from the original too much, keeping familiar elements such as the guitar riff and drum pattern the same. The difference lies in the vocal interpretations of David and Stockman, both bringing their own distinctive styles to the track. The choice of track itself shows Anthony David’s musical diversity.

The ’80s theme lingers on in ‘Girlfriend,’ with its Prince style drum programming. The vocal performance purposefully lacks emotion and sounds as if he is bored, which lends to the lyric, in which Anthony David repeatedly says he is already a taken man.

The diversity increases with the laid back, Island flavoured ‘Keep You Around.’ It’s bassline, chord progression and melody make it good beach music. ‘Body Language’ is another one for the sundeck, owing to it’s drum rolls and melodic guitar in the chorus. There is a definite Omar vibe being conveyed here with the bass sound and backing vocal arrangement having the hallmarks of the UK’s finest Soul man. In contrast, ‘Getaround’ has a bluesy melody and provides a wider summery feel in it’s time signature and bright rhythm guitar.

Something I love about this album is that Anthony David returns to his opening theme in the Outro, which is reminiscent of his good friend India.Arie’s albums, and usually indicates the album itself was a well thought out and structured process in an ever increasing single led market.

The lead single ‘4Evermore’ features Algebra and Phonte, for which a video was recently shot. On it, hard hitting, swung drums are backed by a very nice string arrangement. The melody and ad-libs are Anthony David’s signature style. Algebra turns out to be a more than fitting duet partner and Phonte handles rap duties exceedingly well, with a nice beat switch underneath his verse.

The standout track on the album, and absolute gem, has to be ‘Backstreet.’ In true artist fashion, Anthony David leaves this ‘Ghetto epic’ until last. Anthony David delivers his familiar and inimitable style of artful and creative storytelling, every bit as ‘street’ as it is intelligent. Accompanied by his acoustic guitar as his base, his rough around the edges, yet perfectly tuneful voice provide the icing on the cake which is layered with a cleverly crafted narrative of social commentary. It is a must listen.

Overall, Anthony David does well to return with a strong album which, although is not filled with his regular acoustic guitar driven Soul, still manages to put across his essence. He remains diverse, versatile and strong throughout in his vocal delivery and songwriting, exploring themes that are both familiar and new.

As Above So Below is out now on Dome Records. Order on Amazon.

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