It's hard to believe that six whole years have passed since Jarrod Lawson dropped his remarkable debut LP. Various side projects, collaborations and few passport-stamped tours later, the Portland singer/songwriter/musician now finds himself in a world that is quite different than it was in 2014. But one thing that remains constant is his mind-blowing talent, as evidenced on his sophomore project, Be The Change.
With thoughtful pen and emotive vocals, Mr. Lawson displays allyship as he poignantly addresses societal ills and calls for more peace, love and understanding. Backed by a core ensemble featuring Christopher Friesen (bass), Cory Limuaco (drums), Trent Baarspul (guitar) and jazz legend Sammy Figueroa (percussion), Jarrod offers his most authentic self, and we're all the better for it.
Previously-released tracks "Be The Change" and "Embrace What We Are" set the album's overall tone of message-minded music infused with jazz, soul and layered harmonies. Whether it's a funky jam session on "Battlefield," or channeling Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway on complex arrangements like "Universal Chord," "Connected," "Soul Symphony" and Latin-infused "How Long," there's no shortage of tunes that challenge the mind and speak to the soul.
Even though he's on a mission to make the world a better place, Lawson still has time for matters of the heart. One of our favorite trios, Moonchild, joins him on standout track "I'll Be Your Radio." Like liquid heat, Jarrod and Amber Navran's vocals melt into each other while Andris Mattson and Max Bryk infuse their signature sound throughout the song. Meanwhile, Max Ribner's mellifluous trumpet provides the perfect embellishment for the aching "Love Isn't Always Enough." Lively groove "Why Don't You Call Me Baby Anymore" belies the tension of a failing relationship. Afterward, JLaw completely switches gears as he tantalizes and channels his inner D'Angelo on "Evalee," a sexy little number dedicated to and named in honor of his real-life lady love.
Be The Change is another incredible collection that was definitely worth the wait. Welcome Jarrod Lawson back to your playlist by downloading a copy of the album, and be sure keep up with the artist on Twitter and IG.