Tondrae Kemp’s album, Sun Money is ambitious, fresh, breezy, an overall good time with plenty of personality. So why do I feel like something’s missing, why do I feel like there’s more to the story and as an objective, open minded listener I’m just not getting it.

Going down the list, it’s all here – he’s got soul, got the voice, backed by strong material (music and lyrics are both far from mediocre). His swagger is ‘renaissance soul man in digital world’, like say Martin Luther or D. Not to say that he’s swag (or steez) jacking it’s probably the best way to describe him now. Maybe the fact that I’m having a hard time describing him speaks to the fact he’s that unique, which should be read as a compliment.

What Tondrae presents is a theatre of sound, a buildup of sorts as each song gets progressively better. While he is not pushing any new boundaries, there is something really honest in his music. He sings pleasant, well arranged songs that shine light on his talents as a songwriter and arranger. On first listen the ballad “No Time for Reminiscing” became my favorite joint (even made it into my late nite mix tape). Subsequent listens gave me “Say If You Want To Leave” and “Babylon’s Fall Down” (Feat. Won-Eye), all three songs are good examples of the places Tondrae goes for inspiration. Rocked-out soul, with gospel delivery – guitar solos, piano key tickling…all good things.

Going in for 3rd and 4th   listens I realized what I felt was missing. The music, while good, feels thin at times.  Maybe it’s the production, maybe it’s just my expectations getting the best of my objectivity. Whatever it is, it does not take away from the listening pleasure provided by this album. Aside from my concerns, Sun Money is definitely worth checking out and Tondrae Kemp is talented musician with long term potential.

-Enyi Emesih

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