Bobby Womack‘s new LP with Damon Albarn The Bravest Man In The Universe falls to earth today and just to dot both iis on a deal that–for my money–is already closed, XL Records dropped this video on us. “Whatever Happened to The Times” might be the most powerful release from the project yet. Musically, a heartbeat kick and a synth dirge (that it took me a few listens to realize is a mournful variation on Jorge Ben’s immortal “Taj Mahal,” BKA as Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy“) create a satisfyingly spare backdrop to Womack’s voice as he plumbs the infinite depths of the soul as only he can at this stage of the game (anybody who knows anything about Womack’s bio knows that the battle-scarred grain of his voice is not just the result of decades of cognac & cigarettes. This man has walked through the valley of death and come back to sing about it). Visually, the singer’s august presence collides in zero gravity with the heart-chakra and heliocentric universe diagrams we’ve gotten in previous videos and the astronaut accoutrements of his stint on the Gorillaz tour, synthesizing it all together into at a powerful metaphor for the vast darkness of the human soul. Womack’s voice is the proverbial laser beam, reaching across the abyss to let the listener know he’s not alone in that universe. Basically, what I’m saying is, go buy this record.
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