If you’re looking for music that takes from jazz, bright 60’s style pop, funky R&B and a touch of ambient experimentalism, you really need to check out Project Grand Slam’s new track “Lament” from their stellar forthcoming album Trippin’, a record already garnering enough praise to make it a major contender in the race for album of the year. While there has hardly been a shortage of new hybrid sounds emerging from the underground in the last half decade or so, none have been nearly exciting as the work that Project Grand Slam’s mastermind Robert Miller has been developing. In this latest release, there’s no room for debate; he critical consensus is in, and this is unquestionably the band to watch as we enter the 2020’s. The biggest reason why we’re talking so much about this release? Instrumentation.
While all of their musical work has been superb to date, Project Grand Slam take their unique sound to the next level on Trippin’ and it isn’t exhibited any better than in the song “Lament,” a brutally emotional power ballad that is led by a sultry jazz rhythm that is so intoxicatingly memorable that it easily knocks out any of the other hooks I’ve heard on the FM dial lately. In a hypnotically styled arrangement, we’re taken through a somberly illustrated portrait of love dreamed of, realized, known, forsaken and lamented in a blistering fireworks show of textured vocals, instruments and sound board manipulation all working in perfect synchronization to make an overwhelming wall of sound. It’s a breathtaking piece, and so much more complex than it lets on during its slow building intro.
“Lament” is a piece of art that is so big and bold that we have an endless amount of detail to study and examine to really be able to appreciate the grand amount of skill that what used to render this poignant love song. The heartache in singer Ziarra Washington’s voice is so intimately up close that we can feel the vibration of her epic vocals as she belts out each thunderous line of poetry. I’ve heard some really amazing singers in my life, but Washington has got to have one of the most elaborately orchestrated ranges I’ve heard in the jazz fusion format (and believe me, if you’re as big of a jazz fan as I am, then you know how daring a proclamation that really is).
There aren’t many artist collectives that layer sounds together with such artful taste as Project Grand Slam does, and I think that “Lament” stands to be one of their most profound examples of their compositional capacities to date. I don’t know how anyone else is going to compete with this song or its parent album, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the kind of fire that this ignites in jazz music as a whole. A little bit of competition is a really good thing for any genre, and if everyone was making music as solid as this group is, we as listeners would be the ones to really benefit.