Teaming up with longtime friend and producer Budo, Grieves returns with his third LP, Together/Apart, an album sixteen tracks deep full of darkly translucent lyricism and quiet production that depicts a leap of evolution for the gifted young MC and his partner.
On Together/Apart, Grieves steps into a new maturity and breaks from the more juvenile flavors of his past for his Rhymesayers debut (he joined the legendary Minneapolis label in 2009). Melancholic rhymes over deliciously minimalist slow-drip production combines for an atmospheric weight that convey the lyrics' hardships and heartbreaks, but isn't mired in negativity and gloom. Years of relentless touring and dedication to the craft have yielded a strong balance of sound and a promising new chapter in the career of the man born as Benjamin Laub.
Through slow-step piano and drum machine, Grieves lays his first Rhymesayers verse in hushed rhythm on opener "Light Speed," an impressive narrative of childhood (nod to the Tamagotchi callout!) slipping away through the years. The use of negative space in the frame is disarming, allowing the keys to breathe and the pre-chorus lyrics – of a need to stop & smell the roses before they're wilted and gone – to sink in.
The live-drum contrast to programmed beats gives immediate magnetics to highlight "Bloody Poetry," a head-nodder groove with a dark-breeze smooth chorus and horn flourishes, while "Falling From You" turns in on the heartbreak, an unsettling rattle-clap leading a march through love's loss and the horrifyingly present feeling of absence.
Rhymesayers living legend Brother Ali steps into "Tragic" for a verse, a gentle butter flow under muted beats and canned cymbal crash-stops. Another guest, Ugandan spitter Krukid, rolls in on key-stamping "No Matter What" with a verse that sparks curiosity in his own path under an instrumental backdrop that showcases Budo's formidable style-spectrum variety.
“Heartbreak Hotel” narrates a demise of love through a slow-roll groove-haze indicative of a maturity leap by the MC, a lyrical confessional that evens out the comparatively optimistic album closer "Against the Bottom," exploring life's uncertainties with a hopeful slant.
Grieves doesn't purport to have the answers, but lays out relatable struggles through poetically lush & vivid lyrical narratives that indicate not only a sharp upward trajectory of personal evolution, but a determination to connect to humanity rather than preach to & guide it.
The initial pressing of Together/Apart will feature a bonus DVD entitled Present/Tense, a biography-style documentary giving listeners an inside look at what inspired Together/Apart, as well as live and behind the scenes footage.
CraveOnline Rating: 8 out of 10