A lone piano key chimes in the distance. Woozy sirens float towards your eardrum. We are in S.al’s world now. I Steel Of Radiance, I Feel So Action begins with gentle beauty. Al’s presence on track one is calming to say the least, and his language is layered. The instrumentals on side A are vivid, the delivery is precise, and his lyrics pour from the soul. The artist paints scenes of every day life at Soulfolks, drops gems of inner wisdom, and raps with sheer vulnerability. I Steel Of Radiance is a wave of tranquility, one that grounds the listener instantly. Shoutout Steel Tipped Dove on the production, as well. That needs to be said.
The vibe switches on side B. This is majorly due in part to a change in producer, as Cold Lunch takes control of the beats. From the get go on ‘TEXTBOOK ROMANCE,’ there is a slight edge to the music, as a drunken sax clings with snappy drums. Even the all caps text on the song title signifies a shift in tone. Side B continues down its own road, showcasing new sounds of beguiled acceptance and sharp nostalgia. I Feel So Action is a little more upbeat and awake, which translates to a liver Al on the mic. Add some absolutely fantastic production to play the tape out, and we depart on a high note.
As a whole, I Steel Of Radiance, I Feel So Action showcases S.al at his best. The side A/side B split was inspired by classic cassette format, and allows for two separate listens under one gelling project. And, to be completely honest, Al’s pen game impressed me the most on this thing. These are dense verses, not ones you can unpack in one, two or just three listens. It’s a seven-layer cake of sounds, shapes and sonnets. One that commands an open-mind, and supreme respect for the craft, to fully consume. I Steel Of Radiance, I Feel So Action stands as one of my hidden gems from 2019 thus far, make sure to peep the full project on May 23rd. Long live the Ruby Yacht.
Favorite Tracks: ‘HOT LUNCH,’ ‘TEXTBOOK ROMANCE,’ grocery vessel (thermos), ‘LUCKY DUCK,’ ‘small shop’
Rating: B+ (80/100)
images via S.aL & Rightful artists
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– Benny P