Mr. J. Medeiros is no stranger to my listening preferences. I first heard about him when he released the Of Gods and Girls project. Was instantly impressed upon listening to Constance and Half a Dream and bought the album on the spot. It went instantly into my car and Strangers became a near theme song to a broken engagement.
The music was so filled with emotion, intelligence, creativity, and an awareness of being a craft unto God not man that I just became a fan. Since then, Mr. J. Medeiros has remained in my listening queue, even to the point of using last.fm to listen to previous work done with The Procussions and following him on Twitter. It was the breakup of the former and the constant artist heart drumming of the latter that introduced me to Saudade.
I’m not even through listening to this the first time and am ready to pen my impressions. This is one nasty (read: amazing) project.
Small note: the official release of Saudade is June 14th. I got an early copy due to the fundraising and marketing campaign explained later in this review. Links to songs in this review point to the Saudade Bandcamp page where these have been officially “leaked.”
Saudade opens with a mellow, welcoming opening track called Fear and Safety (featuring Bekah Wagner). Its almost like this was the ideal track to start this project. There’s almost this apprehension towards listening further, but when you do, man. Just an amazing suite of creativity and contemplation. Right after is a ever-so-short interlude Saudade. The interludes (as with Gods and Girls knit and transition moods and messages.
The vibe picks up considerably with the next tracks (The Weak End, Nothing Without Providence). Definitely feeling the tempo changes and the near-experimental sounds. Got to also plug in the “woah” that I got in listening to the beginning of Nothing Without Providence. Any hip-hop heads will easily pick that one up. Take a listen to Nothing Without Providence.
Depression is a Liar and Stand Down offer a rock-based background to another pace change. These are two tracks that will probably take me a few more listens to hear every word clearly. But you know, its so pleasant, I’ll not have much of a problem doing that.
Swallow reminds me of Half a Dream for as far as I could catch it. Very much a track that has familiarity of each of his previous releases, but pushes a bit more towards the mainstream listener. Take a listen of Swallow.
Normally, I’d be tired by the 9th track and wanting to listen to something else, but The Sailor just blended so well from Swallow that I didn’t even recognize that the Saudade was moving so fast. Again on this track, there’s the addition of a familiar rhythm/tempo from a familiar classic song (“one way, or another, I’m gonna find ya…”).
So is the first track where we hear some horns (or at least that I recognized horns and that “east coast” like beat pattern). Just one of those tracks that you’ve got to listen to twice just to hear it. Don’t get caught up in nodding your head here, you’ll miss it. Take a listen of So.
Neon Signs and Serious (both featuring Stro from The Procussions) has a very “Procussions”-like feel to it. The singing was a bit of a surprise on Serious. Thought that I was listening to Maroon 5 with Mr. J. Medeiros being the featured track, had that feel (not a bad thing, I like them too). Take a listen of Neon Signs.
This is Not a Home is unrelenting. If I were any other listener, I might be tired by now. At this point (track 13) you’ve listened to so many changes of rhyme scheme, tempo, and even featured artists that you’d think that this track would fall aside. it doesn’t. Its really quite effective as being a second-to-the-last-track but also could have stood on its own as a single.
The last track, Shower Curtains (featuring J. Kyle Gregory) almost had me for a minute there. After all this energy being thrown out there, it settles you down, closes the project in the same way that Fear and Safety opened them. By the time it finishes, you realize that its been less than an hour. A sensory influx that was as intimate as his previous releases.
I mentioned earlier that this project was a bit different than some others. Mr. J. Medeiros mentioned on twitter that the funds for this project weren’t sufficient enough for him to continue. The response from his fans via Twitter (and probably Facebook as well, I’m not there, I’m guessing) motivated him that something else had to be done. And I do get it, it is *very* hard for an artist, especially an artist that values creative experimentation and independence, to compromise towards a label contract or risk needing the kindness of non-pirates to fund his creativity. This was a legit stoppage in the Saudade’s creation, but a suggestion came out of nowhere (to my eyes) and something neat happened.
Medeiros put up a project on the social network, fundraising site IndieGoGo asking for those who could to contribute funds to the effort of getting Saudade at least to the point of making enough funds ($5000 USD) in three months to support the completing of the Saudade project and have at least a small tour. However, the response was beyond what could be expected. Within days (not weeks), the minimum was half-way raised and this even continues to this day (currently, 4 days before the fundraising campaign closes) with $12,000 USD having been raised to support Mereiros and the Saudade project.
This hasn’t been done before. Its been nearly attempted in respect to artists publishing a project and then asking fans to contribute whatever they felt was fine. But here, for an artist, independent of a major label, to raise the funds before the project was finished, and so quickly, was just something never seen before. I’m sure that other artists will try and tap their fan bases to do the same. I’m not sure that all will have the same success, but using sites like IndieGogo might be the avenues for many “starving” artists in all fields to take a chance at being better supported for a project or two.
Mr. J. Medeiros has never billed himself as a Christian artist (am thankful for that), but as a Christian who uses his God given talents to bless the lives of others and bring light to aspects of life we might ordinarily pass over. I kind of want to leave this section a bit more blank until I’ve had more time to digest this project, but I’ve already noticed in songs such as This Is Not A Home, Serious, and The Weak End, I quickly found myself relating to some of the emotions and struggles, and the insistence that we aren’t meant to stay down. Much like Strangers was for me in leaving a relationship, I can see Saudade will have a place for me in kicking me forward as I life out my faith beyond its cultured label.
As you can probably tell, I’m digging this project. Suffice to say that if you’ve not gotten your hands on it that you will want to. I recommend going to his website and purchasing from the available outlets noted there. Not that iTunes or Amazon wouldn’t get it to you in the same way, or even pennies cheaper, but the links on his site offer back more to the artist than some of these larger stores. I believe in paying the artist for the work they do as much as I can – Saudade is that kind of project you’d want to do the same.
As for Saudade, I’m through the project twice now (meaning at the time of writing this; by the time this posts, it will be many more times). I’m happy as all beans that I got in on the early release through the IndieGoGO campaign. For those that didn’t, release day is the 14th and I think that fans new and old will really appreciate this release. Definitely grab this one if you are a Mr. J. Medeiros fan, and if you aren’t this would be the kind of project that would easily make you one.
Who am I kidding? You don’t want to wait that long. Check out Mr. J. Medeiros’ Bandcamp page for Saudade for a few of the official leaks and another place to purchase this project.