Material: A mix of R&B, neo soul and hip-hop, Michael Blume seamlessly blends these genres into his own creation, which he then superimposes with his brand of socially conscious messages, self-reflection and personal disclosure. His various themes tackle social issues, relationships and sexual identity. In “Manufactured Love,” Blume makes a scathing statement about emotionally absent parenting and the trade-off for material acquisitions and self-involvement: “do you really love your kids/or do you pay for manufactured love/cause if you do/you’ve really fractured love.”
The artist’s quest for resolving his own sexual identity crisis is apparent in the part- ballad, part-rap “How High,” an innocent search for answers coupled with an insistence to finally get them, sensitively setting up the turmoil one goes through: “When I get it right/I question everything in sight/when I get it right/I doubt myself/this can’t be right/what does it taste like/how does it feel/what is it made of/ do you think it’s real?”
Musicianship: Rhythmic precision, spot- on intonation and a flair for vocal riffing are Blume’s strong suits. He uses them economically; however, they are part and parcel of his vocal style. The trio of backup singers meshes perfectly with Blume’s vocals as well as creating a cohesive blend independently of him. The acoustic guitar and percussion add understated elements that allow Blume’s statements to stand out in relief.
Performance: With stripped-down acoustic backing, Blume succeeded in making this understated format replete with plenty of drama, a skill that he had easy access to. He showed himself to be adept at working his sweet spot—his silky, pliable and expressive vocals—though at times, his polish was a bit slick and over-rided the obvious vulnerability. While the musicians kept the accompaniment low-key and laid-back, Blume pushed forth with his unabashed and unapologetic delivery. Filling out the sound and the overall impact were three female backup singers who served as Blume’s alter ego, sometimes with harmonies, while at other times echoing his musical statements.
Summary: Michael Blume is an artist who, with consummate musicianship, confessional style and smooth vocals, knows exactly how to work the room. While some of his songs are more memorable than others, they are all captivating as a result of his performance savvy. His willingness to bare his raw emotions is refreshing, though at times his superb vocal skills can overshadow the underlying feeling.
The Players: Michael Blume, lead vocals; Camille Trust, backup vocals; Taj, backup vocals; Kola Rai, backup vocals; Ben Eunson, guitar; Jake Goldbas, cajon, percussion.
Photo by Mark Shiwolich
Michael Blume - "Manufactured Love"
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