On Concept Albums


AND here we have an artist with a vision. The vision is plastered on his web page, blaring through his music–a pianist who is setting a new standard. On his site, you can salvage nostalgia for lyrics, but not lyrics that are verbalized, rather fantasized while listening to a mostly instrumental album “Heroes + Misfits”

This album in all of its audio/visual manifestations (YouTube, photography, etc) speaks to me in a fitting black and white theme. It says to me that for the first time in many years, an artist decided to use poetry to further emulate the message in the music. This experience is rare, not because most contemporary jazz visionaries don’t use lyrics, but that Bowers’ website treats his ideas like gold. It almost feels as though you enter an exhibition gallery with visually stimulating themes, layouts, user interface, and down to the very last detail, you are invited to his world.

Once you become familiarized with the concept, you can appreciate the work. For this, I must state that there is nothing like a concept album. A 360 work of art in the flesh. Maybe the question to ask is why there are not more concept albums, serving society with words from poets, photographers images and the like. Maybe the answer is because it’s difficult to write music for the naked truth that:

“I wake to poverty suffocating my dreams
On corners where death sings and mothers scream
Hopelessness has everyone forgetting to believe” -Harris (one of the poems from Bowers’ latest album)

So that may be why the poems were written after the music. That may be why this new album’s significance is beyond what record labels due in trying to find singer/songwriters, beyond what A&R do when listening to thousands of new artists a day, it may be why an artist with a vision is not hung up on streaming rights and breaking even on live gigs. It may be why some music doesn’t get old. The music that may be getting old is probably distorted clones of what is easiest to produce (no pun intended)–pop.


Any other concept albums that lured you into the beauty and beastiality of reality that is today?


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