Black Yankee Rock
Marc Anthony Thompson keeps busy writing film and dramatic scores and working on other artists’ recordings, leaving plenty of time for his alter ego, Chocolate Genius Inc, to prepare for his next appearance. And he’s obviously been doing some soul searching since his last release, Godmusic in 2001. Black Yankee Rock is a collection of introspective and well-crafted songs, backed by the considerable talents of Marc Ribot, Me’Shell NdegéOcello, and Van Dyke Parks, among others. Aside from the steady groove of the opener, “The Beginning of Always,” the album is a mix of pensive piano ballads and smoky, slow-burning soul, and filled with sharp lyrics such as “If the words don’t mean a thing/Then why does what you don’t say sting?” The song titles, including “Down So Low,” “It’s Going Wrong,” and “Cry,” offer clues about the album’s overall mood, but he’s not wallowing in misery here. Nor does he sound shocked or angry. He sings as if he has experienced the ache of separation before and has finally learned to wait out the worst parts. After willingly exposing his “dark side” on the wistful “Same Time Tomorrow,” he accepts the consequences of making himself vulnerable — pain, perhaps, but also understanding. Black Yankee Rock is a soulful journey heading toward a happy ending.