I’ve long been a fan of Brad Mehldau, and I have no problem with him branching off from the standard piano trio format that he’s been exploring for most of his career. While there are some good tracks on this new album, a duo with Mehldau and drummer Mark Guiliana (Amazon.com, Amazon UK, iTunes Store), there are as many throw-aways.
The first track is very self-absorbed, with Brad reading a text about a dream he had; the same text that’s in the liner notes. Several tracks have voices speaking over them, which detract from the music. This type of “voice-over” was a thing back in the 1980s, but it’s just a gimmick now. While there are some good sounds on this album, it really comes across as a hodgepodge of different types of music, with no firm direction.
I like Hungry Ghost, Swimming and a couple of other tracks. But the title track is a waste, Gainsbourg is annoying, and some of the others are just plain mediocre. (Seriously, there’s nothing I want to hear less than the creepy Serge Gainsbourg talking over music.)
This isn’t like Miles Davis discovering electricity; what Mehldau and Guiliana are doing is nothing groundbreaking. They have a lot of potential, and this album shows that they could go far, but they need to be more discerning with what they release.
This album is an example of the type of collection where there are one or two good songs, and the rest of the album is crappy filler. I’m quite disappointed, especially since I really like Hungry Ghost, the track that was released prior to the album release.
Oh, and “Mehliana?” Couldn’t they have come up with something better than that?