16 Songs, 1 Hour 11 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding is in many ways a conceptual artist: Her 2016 record Emily's D+Evolution, for instance, was a feature for her alter ego, while 2018’s 12 Little Spells, her seventh LP, follows in that spirit. Each of its tracks (and their attendant scope-expanding videos) is like an incantation dedicated to a different body part. This deluxe edition of the album actually offers 16 spells; blood, hair, joints, and shoulders have also been accounted for now.

While Spalding is a talented soloist, overall 12 Little Spells is hardly a platform to showcase that side of her. The wild shapes of Spalding’s melodies, and the way they sound against the sand-and-glass chords of Matthew Stevens’ guitar, are like nothing else being done in music. The subtle funky twists in her song forms—the harmonic utter strangeness and post-tonality of “To Tide Us Over,” “The Longing Deep Down,” and “Now Know”—underline her ability to bring highly complex ideas into an easily accessible groove-driven setting (with help from ace drummer Justin Tyson).

The album’s "spells" conceit stems from Spalding’s interest in music therapy, which she’s pursuing on a formal academic level, with an eye toward social justice applications (on “Dancing the Animal” she sings, “Google ‘humanity,' but while you do/Guard the animal in you”). But as she said in an interview with The Daily Beast, “You can go as far with me as you want or just enjoy it as some dope music.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding is in many ways a conceptual artist: Her 2016 record Emily's D+Evolution, for instance, was a feature for her alter ego, while 2018’s 12 Little Spells, her seventh LP, follows in that spirit. Each of its tracks (and their attendant scope-expanding videos) is like an incantation dedicated to a different body part. This deluxe edition of the album actually offers 16 spells; blood, hair, joints, and shoulders have also been accounted for now.

While Spalding is a talented soloist, overall 12 Little Spells is hardly a platform to showcase that side of her. The wild shapes of Spalding’s melodies, and the way they sound against the sand-and-glass chords of Matthew Stevens’ guitar, are like nothing else being done in music. The subtle funky twists in her song forms—the harmonic utter strangeness and post-tonality of “To Tide Us Over,” “The Longing Deep Down,” and “Now Know”—underline her ability to bring highly complex ideas into an easily accessible groove-driven setting (with help from ace drummer Justin Tyson).

The album’s "spells" conceit stems from Spalding’s interest in music therapy, which she’s pursuing on a formal academic level, with an eye toward social justice applications (on “Dancing the Animal” she sings, “Google ‘humanity,' but while you do/Guard the animal in you”). But as she said in an interview with The Daily Beast, “You can go as far with me as you want or just enjoy it as some dope music.”

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