By Staff Writer Sawyer Pollitt.
Californian musician Anderson .Paak recently released his fourth studio album Ventura. This eleven track LP is a funky foray with soulful motifs that are a treat to the ears.
First, it must be noted that this album contains a number of features by the likes of Andre 3000, Smokey Robinson, Lalah Hathaway, Jazmine Sullivan, Sonyae Elise, Brandy, and Nate Dogg.
Oftentimes a feature can take away from the integrity of a track and can even devalue it. Andre 3000’s verse on the opening song “Come Home” is the standout feature on the album.
It comes out of nowhere in a way that is unobtrusive and welcome, yet still punchy and contrasts nicely with .Paak’s flows on the rest of the track.
However, while 3000’s verse is notable, on Ventura, every feature present adds a layer of depth to the music. Depth is an important concept for this album.
The layered production and instrumentation that abounds on every one of the eleven tracks elevates Ventura above tired tropes that one is often used to hearing.
Elegant string sections that evoke feelings of 70’s nostalgia mixed with tight and dreamy backing vocals imbue this project a unique yet familiar sound.
Mixing retro sounds with modern pop and rap motifs is something that .Paak is able to accomplish elegantly on this project. Elements of jazz, R&B, funk, and soul complement each other beautifully, and set the stage for .Paak’s smooth flows. Never does anything feel less than genuine.
If one had to describe this album, it would be with the phrase “moving music.”
Not music that necessarily makes one groove to the beat, but music that would be fitting for any kind of travel. Riding your bike on the way to an indie, urban art gallery? Ventura. Leaving your house to go to work, ready to take on the world? Ventura. Simply walking down a path on the UMass Dartmouth campus? Ventura.
Every track on Ventura offers something that most people would be able to enjoy. There will most likely be something that scratches your itch. Oftentimes in my reviews, I note the point when I want to stop listening to an album and I begin to hyper-focus on one of the many sheets of drywall that make up many UMass Dartmouth residential halls.
While listening to Ventura, this point never came. I was always eagerly anticipating the next track I would hear and the next few measures of music that would flow from the speakers.
The only complaints that this reviewer can make regarding this album are ones that bridge into nit-picky personal preference. To the ears of this reviewer, all eleven tracks are solid, enjoyable, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with any of them. In fact, it would be difficult to argue that any single track on Ventura is bad.
On a ten-point scale, Ventura would land at a solid nine.
This album was truly a joy to listen to and found its way onto a few of my Spotify playlists. The only thing keeping Ventura from reaching a ten out of ten is my experience while listening. The first section of this project was personally a lot more engaging than the latter part.
While there was no drop in quality, no “B-side,” I couldn’t help but notice that the rhythms, tempos, and instrumentation on the first several tracks were simply more pleasing to this reviewer’s ear.
While personally unfamiliar with Anderson .Paak’s work, stumbling upon this album was one of the best moves one could make.
It certainly deserves a listen from anyone who has an interest in this style of soulful and funky hip-hop.