Yaves - In Autumns Ear
Posted by Jim Clifford on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 12:09pm EST
Autumn is my favorite season. You can make arguments for the trio of competitors for the spot, but the crisp air of dusk, ever-present whiffs of spice, hoodies that hold the perfurme/cologne of its previous owner (For better or for worse) and the crunching of dried leaves underneath your Timbs is all the evidence you need to present to win the argument. No time period is more ripe for reflection, fresh direction and nostalgia as late September through November. So back when Yaves FKA Street Pastor promised a collection of music for each season on the excellent In Summer's Ear EP (Still available for free download here on Dasouth) last August, I was most looking forward to the collection in my hands right now. "In Autumn's Ear" also serves as Yaves second release on his new label home, Xist Music, following the quality History in Progress released last spring.
The album opens with "In Autumn's Ear," a steady breeze of diet synth and what sounds like live drum taps. It's a typical album introduction of Yaves that fans who've been down with the Columbus, Ohio emcee since his earliest days will expect, to some degree, and enjoy. Typical Yaves is rarely a bad thing and his flow and off the cuff bars perform their duties effortlessly in an album highlight. "A Billion" is a lean cut whose lack of a thicker sound hurts the production. Yaves trademark wordplay is absent for a majority of the song, all adding up to a paint-by-the-numbers picture. "Everywhere" has the distinction of a guest spot by the talented Eshon Burgundy, but with a familiar beat and a general unexciting presentation, generic is the sticker it gets tagged with. "The Ceiling (Trill)" is the 'AC Cool' of this project i.e. a beat so airy that it floats from lack of (acknowledged) stress and a Yaves flow so chilled it doesn't even think about sweating. I dug 'AC' so I'm not mad at this song, but it doesn't score any points for originality.
I have a love/hate fling with "Myself," an internal narrative whose three verses find the emcee fighting with himself over different temptations. The perspective verses are a nice change of shoes that Yaves has always benefited from stepping in to, but the hook is a struggle and skids the momentum of the song. I'm glad a Christian finally gave a shout out to Bedside Baptist on record though. "Name Dropping" may be the weakest spot on the EP. Every area, from concept to chorus, is played out and akin to the songs that pop up once in a while in Yaves discography that can be described as tired and unnecessary. "Green Light" finds Yaves adopting a very reggae-ish flow (At least I assume it's him, since there is no other artist credited) over another simple hook. I get the upbeat, party mood that the song is going for but the experiment is unsuccessful in my opinion. Album starlet and closer, "Beauty for Ashes," closes out this inning with a walk off homer. Yaves pairs with vocalist Reigni Ryles in a foggy worship track akin to "Goodbye World," and "How Great," while maintaining it's own meditative identity. Yaves trademark verses that leaisurely walk down the piano and cloudy synth sidewalk resemble convicted conversation more than sixteen bars and the mood fits a streetlight-led walk as the fall air bites at the nose of the distracted listener.
First thing to be done is to give credit to Xist Music for letting Yaves continue his projected vision for future releases and keep his MP3 promises to his fans that were made before any record deals. The second thing to be done is to declare "In Autumns Ear" an unfortunate twitch in Yaves discography. When you put out the high volume of music that the dog-yeared emcee has in as much time, you can't be too mad at one project that doesn't live up to the expectations. The worst complaint about this edition is the fact that I could see any anonymous Christian rapper spitting these songs. Aside from the album bookends, there's just a casual 'Did you say something?' head turn reaction in the music here. What made In Summer's Ear memorable, if not perfect, was the complete encapsulation of the season on wax. Here, there is no such loosely uniting sound, direction or tone and the various moods of the title season aren't sonically acknowledged or captured. I'll chalk it up as a fluke and look forward to what I'll hear next from the Slingshot camp.
Categorical Ratings Breakdown:
Beat Selection/Production: 2.5/5
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