Fantastic Negrito made waves with his creative odyssey of a 2022 album, White Jesus Black Problems, an album which tackled the story of his mixed ancestry in the era of American slavery, all the while fusing the blues, funk, pop, and folk music together effortlessly. While the album was among the strongest releases to drop last year, Fantastic Negrito has returned with Grandfather Courage, a reimagined version of his 2022 album performed and rearranged for an acoustic setting, further demonstrating the relentless creative nature of Fantastic Negrito.
Opening with the dreamy weaving of “Drifting Away”, the listener is greeted by lush vocals, warm acoustic guitars, a gentle piano, and light percussion. The song reaffirms Fantastic Negrito’s folk and acoustic blues influences. These go deeper on the following song, “Locked Down”, a song that couldn’t be more contrasting in tone from the soft opener as Fantastic Negrito delivers a soulfully modern take on southern blues. Like the Robert Johnson of our time, “Locked Down” is a stirring blues song that seems to widen the lexicon of what is possible in the genre, while also playing to tradition.
Grandfather Courage shines for its ability to act as a companion piece for White Jesus Black Problems, while also standing all on its own as an impressive collection of well written and performed songs. Rather than feel like an acoustic version of his last album, Grandfather Courage feels entirely fresh and exciting. To see Fantastic Negrito adapt his music for an alternatively acoustic context feels like a thrilling peek into his creative process; to imagine that these songs were once at such a crossroad of musical direction and to hear these new cuts that feel equally as vital as the original is something truly special. Songs like “They Go Low”, an instrumental, 11-min composition for a jazz orchestra, “Man With No Name”, a dark and haunting blues track, and “In My Head”, driven by Latin inspired rhythms, are all highlights among an incredible collection of 11 songs.
While White Jesus Black Problems delivered a synthesis between electronic textures and live instruments, Grandfather Courage has substituted nearly all electronic elements in favour of live, acoustic instruments. The result is yet another stunning performance from Fantastic Negrito, demonstrating his worth as one of the greatest and most unique songwriters of our time. At its core, Grandfather Courage is a cultural mosaic of magnificent proportions that proves, once again, that there is no one quite like Fantastic Negrito.
SPILL FEATURE: THE STORY OF AMERICA – A CONVERSATION WITH FANTASTIC NEGRITO
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: FANTASTIC NEGRITO – GRANDFATHER COURAGE