When someone mentions there’s a new Gil Scott-Heron album coming out, you sit up and take notice. On February 9th, XL Records will release I’m New Here, Scott-Heron’s first new album in over 14 years. Produced by XL’s owner, Richard Russell, the album finds the poet moving through a dense urban soundscape reflective of the inspiration his 70s work has had on hip-hop for the past thirty years while still paying tribute to his career-long influences of the blues and jazz.

I’m New Here opens and closes with the tracks “On Coming From a Broken Home” parts one and two, respectively. At the album’s beginning, this leads into lead single “Me and the Devil,” a claustrophobic interpretation of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues.” Its twitches of electronics and machine-heavy percussion underlines an obsession with burial and afterlife destinations. The title track follows this, a cover of Smog’s “I’m New Here” that takes the playful, matter-of-factness of the original and turns it on its head, using the themes of the Johnson song to play the lyrics like the meanderings of someone newly arrived to hell. “Turnaround and you may come full circle and be new here again,” as if cleansed in the fire of all the old mistakes and grievances.

There is a focus on the relationship of parents and children – obviously in the opening and closing tracks, but also in originals like “Your Soul and Mine” and a dark and desperate take on Bobby Bland’s “I’ll Take Care of You.” The theme of burial and death resurfaces, too, in “New York Is Killing Me,” a rattling cacophony of handclaps and cymbals that sounds like a lost Waitsian composition. There is a sense of people fleeing responsibilities and fleeing themselves (“Running“) and of people analyzing their own support structures (“The Crutch“).

I’m New Here is an album that seems uncertain, grateful for the lessons learned, even if the results have been chaotic and hazy. The anger of youth has mellowed to reflective, surgical analysis about the road traveled and what few places there are left to go. words/ j neas

MP3: Gil Scott-Heron :: Me And The Devil
MP3: Gil Scott-Heron :: Where Did The Night Go
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14 Responses to “Gil Scott-Heron :: I’m New Here”

  1. Sit up and take notice, indeed! Cool.

  2. The Cave Singers were giving this a shout earlier…very nice

  3. Is Brian Jackson in this record also?I’ve been listening a lot to Pieces of A Man lately and the pairing of those two was dynamite! Lady Day and John Coltrane is a favorite.

  4. The Revolution will be uploaded to the internet …

  5. So my question is, can someone explain to me the true difference between comments #4 and 5?

    @alejandro – As far as I know, Jackson isn’t on this record, though I found it interesting that Oakley Hall’s Pat Sullivan plays on it. Interesting cross-over.

  6. I remember the original comment #5, now deleted, and what can I say…some people don’t know the basics of promotion/public relations.

    As for the post: haven’t heard it yet, but am glad GS-H made it across the bridge.

  7. is the rest of the record as great as these two tracks and “new york is killing me?” the latter might be my favourite song of the year (so far).

  8. its great

  9. yeah, what an album. that smog cover is unbelievable — and i thought the original was heartbreaking.

  10. love this message that arrived in my inbox today:

    There is a proper procedure for taking advantage of any investment.

    Music, for example. Buying a CD is an investment.
    To get the maximum you must

    LISTEN TO IT FOR THE FIRST TIME UNDER OPTIMUM CONDITIONS.

    Not in your car or on a portable player through a headset.
    Take it home.
    Get rid of all distractions, (even him or her).
    Turn off your cell phone.
    Turn off everything that rings or beeps or rattles or whistles.
    Make yourself comfortable.
    Play your CD.
    LISTEN all the way through.
    Think about what you got.
    Think about who would appreciate this investment.
    Decide if there is someone to share this with.
    Turn it on again.
    Enjoy Yourself.

    – Gil Scott-Heron

  11. This is incredible! I’ve seen him live a couple of time since his last album and have been waiting for this. I’m already inspired by these two songs and am running to go buy the album now. I’ve been saved!!

  12. […] GIL SCOTT HERON – ME AND THE DEVIL […]

  13. […] Gil Scott-Heron: you blew minds all over again in 2010 with the seemingly out of nowhere release of I’m New Here. Busting out of the gate last February I’ve devoured the album a little more with every […]

  14. […] hard not to immediately compare this album in some ways to Gil Scott-Heron’s swansong, I’m New Here, which was Heron’s first new material in 16 years and which was also released on XL and […]

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