Album Review: Dellé - NEO
by Gardy Stein
A little brainstorming: which characteristics do you associate with the word NEO? Dynamic, new, urban, modern, strong, durable, fast, interesting... maybe some more in case you've watched The Matrix. All of the above somehow describe the sound of a new release straight out of Berlin by the one called Dellé. The Seeed-member has pursued his solo-career for some time now, and while his last album Before I Grow Old didn't really get a hold on me, Neo is a completely different story.
Produced under the wing of Virgin Records, it contains 11 songs that aptly illustrate the variety of styles and subjects the artist commands. All of the riddim tracks have been carefully crafted by mastermind Guido Craveiro, who, in close collaboration with Dellé, managed to create tunes that are at once delicate and powerful, catchy and complicated - the first track Teach Me is a good illustration of this. Are you able to identify all the different sounds it contains?
Inspired by Marteria's Sekundenschlaf, Tic Toc is the second single release of the album. For an incredible first time collaboration, Dellé has invited Gentleman onto the speedy track. The same talented drumliners who appear in the impressive video (a formation called Cold Steel) spice up Apologize as well. The only other feature is recorded with band colleague Boundzound, and although How Do You Do is fun listening, lyrically it lacks the conscious depth of other tracks, such as Sleepy Hollow.
More than one personal story is told as well, reflecting on the turbulent years of Dellé's life. Trisomy 21 for instance, a song written during his wife’s second pregnancy, comes to terms with the fear that their child might be born with Down syndrome. Take Your Medicine is also based on a true story, dedicated to a friend of his who, 20 years ago, suddenly glided into a deep psychosis that had to be treated in a mental hospital. This courage to talk about subjects no one else talks about is one of the strengths of the album, but it also demands a lot from his audience. No easy-peasy listening! Ok, there are playful songs, too. Falling in love with the first notes of Marry Me, the chorus is an instant sing-along, as is the slightly more serious Tell Me Who You Are.
I've been most touched, however, by Light Your Fire. Dellé has dared to address the hot iron of religious fanaticism and finds a simple, lyrical way of presenting it that deserves deepest respect. The accompanying video, which puts the central message of the song into focus, is worth watching as well: "The common motivation of all our religions is love!"
There is not much to be added to this. With NEO, Dellé redefines urban reggae and audibly shows us that not everything has to be revived - there is plenty of room up front for great, new music!
Dellé - NEO
DIGITAL RELEASE [Virgin Records]
Release date: 06/24/2016
01. Teach Me
02. Tic Toc feat. Gentleman
03. Tell Me Who You Are
04. Please Apologize
05. Marry Me
06. Light Your Fire
07. Sleepy Hollow
08.Take Your Medicine
09. Trisomy 21
10. How Do You Do feat. Boundzound
11. Why Did You Lie