The Bravest Man in the Universe

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
Veteran soul musician Bobby Womack releases The Bravest Man in the Universe, which marks his first solo album in almost a decade. Having struggled through drug addiction and great tragedy, Womack has written some of the greatest R&B songs, such as "Across 110th Street" and "Woman's Gotta Have It," and was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Womack has since worked with Gorillaz and Mos Def, which has influenced the contemporary sound found on this record. Womack's raspy soulful vocals are given a fresh sound here, including synths and drum machines, produced by Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) and Richard Russell (Gil Scott-Heron).
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide
Veteran soul musician Bobby Womack releases The Bravest Man in the Universe, which marks his first solo album in almost a decade. Having struggled through drug addiction and great tragedy, Womack has written some of the greatest R&B songs, such as "Across 110th Street" and "Woman's Gotta Have It," and was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Womack has since worked with Gorillaz and Mos Def, which has influenced the contemporary sound found on this record. Womack's raspy soulful vocals are given a fresh sound here, including synths and drum machines, produced by Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) and Richard Russell (Gil Scott-Heron).
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Damon Albarn enlisted Bobby Womack to sing on Gorillaz's 2010 album Plastic Beach, pushing the great soul singer back into action after a prolonged period of silence. Remarkably, the unlikely pair struck up a friendship, a partnership that led to 2012's The Bravest Man in the Universe, Womack's first album in 13 years. Signing with Richard Russell's XL Records, Womack collaborated with his longtime cohort Harold Payne, Albarn, and Russell on this ghostly, skeletal soul collection, each man bringing his own signatures to the table. Russell's beats intertwine with Albarn's spectral chords, each evoking distinct memories of his past work, but even if there are clear antecedents in Russell's production of Gil Scott-Heron or the futuristic funk oeuvre of Gorillaz, these two do not bend Womack to fit their needs: they free him to make a startlingly modern Bobby Womack album, one that harks back to such previous masterworks as Understanding and The Poet, albums that fully embodied both the singer and his times. And so it is with The Bravest Man in the Universe, an album that sounds like 2012 as much as it sounds like Womack: the rhythms belong to the modern world, the slow, shimmering grooves undeniably Womack's, as he's been specializing in this sound since the turn of the '70s. Initially, the most bracing elements of The Bravest Man in the Universe are those electronic flourishes from Russell and Albarn and, most of all, the power of Womack's singing. He's showing signs of age -- his voice is etched and weathered -- but he sounds undiminished, both as a vocalist and as a man. This is not a quiet, mournful album about the dying of the light; this is about living in the moment, embracing age and modernity with equal enthusiasm. The past is present on The Bravest Man in the Universe -- nowhere more so than on "Dayglo Reflection," where a song by Womack mentor Sam Cooke is interpolated and chanteuse of the year Lana Del Rey is deployed as effectively ethereal counterpart, but Bobby covers the traditional "Deep River" and revives "Whatever Happened to the Times," a song he co-wrote with his old running partner Jim Ford -- although Womack is never beholden to time gone by; the old days are part of him, informing how he's facing the present, and there's nothing remotely approaching nostalgia here. For as haunting as parts of the album are, there is no fetishization of death on the parts of Albarn and Russell; even with a tinge of melancholy coloring the fringes of the album, this is an album that affirms the power of life, in all of its mess and glory.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/12/2012
  • Label: Xl Recordings
  • UPC: 634904056124
  • Catalog Number: 40561
  • Sales rank: 48,172

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Bobby Womack Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals
Rory McFarlane Double Bass
Alice Pratley Violin
Richard Adlam Sampling
Izzi Dunn Cello
Chris Storr Trumpet
Stella Page Viola
Antonia Pagulatos Violin
Hal Ritson Sampling
Nina Foster Violin
Alex Reeves Sampling
Oli Langford Violin
Jessie Ware Background Vocals
The Demon Strings Strings
Emma Muchando Vocals
Technical Credits
Sam Cooke Composer
Bobby Womack Arranger, Composer
Jim Ford Composer
Harold Payne Arranger, Composer
Damon Albarn Arranger, Composer, Producer
Gil Scott-Heron Composer
Richard Russell Arranger, Composer, Producer, drum programming
Traditional Composer
Ginare Womack Executive Producer
Stephen Sedgwick Engineer
Steve Honest Drum Engineering
Rodaidh McDonald Engineer
Kwes. Instrumentation, Additional Production
Kevin Matcalfe Mastering
Elizabeth Grant Composer
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