12 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The freewheeling, oddly upbeat music of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down gains further definition on the combo’s sophomore album. Leader Thao Nguyen evolved her persona (part freak-folk diva, part earthy soul goddess) as a solo singer/songwriter before assembling TGDSD. We the Common feels less like the work of a jam band than a collection of smart, playful material brought to vigorous life by a supple rhythm section and dressed up in nicely contrasting instrumental colors. Nguyen rides the swells of her combo’s sound, delivering tunes like the title track, “We Don’t Call,” and “Human Heart” with a palpable joy. The churning beat of “City,” the tingling trudge of “Every Body,” and the Asian-inflected cadence of “Holy Roller” testify to the band’s creative breadth. Lyrically, Nguyen fuses the personal and the political, celebrating brotherhood and self-empowerment amid the complications of modern times. Joanna Newsom lends her quirky trill to the wistful country strains of “Kindness Be Conceived.” Nguyen and her bandmates ramble through these tracks with a mix of inspired skill and spontaneous fun.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The freewheeling, oddly upbeat music of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down gains further definition on the combo’s sophomore album. Leader Thao Nguyen evolved her persona (part freak-folk diva, part earthy soul goddess) as a solo singer/songwriter before assembling TGDSD. We the Common feels less like the work of a jam band than a collection of smart, playful material brought to vigorous life by a supple rhythm section and dressed up in nicely contrasting instrumental colors. Nguyen rides the swells of her combo’s sound, delivering tunes like the title track, “We Don’t Call,” and “Human Heart” with a palpable joy. The churning beat of “City,” the tingling trudge of “Every Body,” and the Asian-inflected cadence of “Holy Roller” testify to the band’s creative breadth. Lyrically, Nguyen fuses the personal and the political, celebrating brotherhood and self-empowerment amid the complications of modern times. Joanna Newsom lends her quirky trill to the wistful country strains of “Kindness Be Conceived.” Nguyen and her bandmates ramble through these tracks with a mix of inspired skill and spontaneous fun.

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