Label: STRT TRBL Music
Release Date: 09/02/2014
Reviewer: Anthony Peronto
- Share The World
- Change It All
- Reassurance ft. Elhae
- Right Now
- Til Death
- There Is A Love ft. Camille Faulkner
- Better Off
Three years ago, Xavier Adams auditioned for The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and American Idol but never made it through the first round. Was he not ready? Was it further proof of the irrelevancy of competition shows? Or a little of both? Maybe it’s for the best because in the three year since, SPZRKT (pronounced Spazzy Rocket) has become one of the most unique voices in CHH. Like John Legend meets J.R., SPZRKT is known for his distinct sound and smooth but powerful vocals. Now, after countless features and free projects, he’s ready to release his debut album Bonfire.
When you picture a bonfire you imagine a diverse crowd gathered together and united by hopes, dreams, and the need for love. With that image, Mr. Rocket has created an album with a wide range of genres all focused on the topic of love. Last year, SPZRKT released two mixtapes: The Loner and Lucid Dream. The Loner was album with a narrative about the beginning and abrupt end of a relationship. Lucid Dream was about finding hope and love in Christ. Bonfire is a combination of those mixtapes, focusing equally on both types of love (earthly and heavenly).
When the airwaves are filled with excellently produced but empty songs, it’s refreshing to find an artist with a unique sound that excels in the pop genre. And SPZRKT’s pop sound is the most prevalent on Bonfire, including “Change It All”, “Til Death”, “Share The World”, and “Better Off.” The best example of this sound is “Share The World,” an infectious opener that is the perfect love song to end the summer. The most interesting inclusion on the album is the closer, “Better Off,” which mirrors the lighthearted production of “Share The World.” However, on an album about love, this is the only song about the end of a relationship. And in the end, it feels more like a bonus track.
If you’ve listened to any CHH lately (from Social Club, Rhema Soul, Black Knight, to RMG and Reach Records’ artists) then you’ve probably heard SPZRKT sing the hook for their songs. And there are several ballads here that showcase his vocals; including “Drown”, the beautiful “There Is A Love”, and the show stopping “Bonfire.” His vocals alone on the title track is proof enough that those singing competition shows made a grave mistake. The most powerful ballad is the orchestral duet on “There Is A Love,” which speaks about a Love that’s greater than the pain or conflict that arises in a relationship. The song’s structure and the chemistry between Spazzy and Faulkner make it the emotional high point of the album.
The final component of his sound on Bonfire is the smooth R&B that was best represented with his breakout songs “Middle Of Things” and “Hearts Of Fear.” While “Lit” and “Reassurance” are very top-notch R&B songs, “Insecure” is the best song of this style on the album. About the insecurity women face and the support men need to provide in a relationship, the song is head nodding from start to downtempo finish. The weakest song on the album would be “Right Now,” which has songwriting that pales in comparison to the rest of the album. The production by Cardec and Tyshane are great (as is most of their work on the album), but the lyrics about long distance relationships are a bit weak (including a slight “inclusion” of the n-word). However, compared to his previous work, this song is an overall improvement.
Overall: Streets ahead of the music found on the Top 40 charts, SPZRKT has created one of the best pop/R&B albums in “Christian music.” Bonfire may ruffle some listener’s feathers; including fans who expect the strong spiritual substance of Lucid Dream, those who want more of the emotional nakedness of The Loner, and the hip hop heads who want a few songs like “Queen of England” or “A-OK.” Yet with Bonfire, he compiles all of his influences and ambitions to create a clear picture of who he is as an artist (The lack of features is a strong indication). And by the looks of it, Bonfire is the best representation of the eclectic and unique sound of SPZRKT.
RIYL: Christon Gray, J.R., John Legend, D-Tropp, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd