Freetown Sound

Freetown Sound

by Blood OrangeBlood Orange


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Devonté Hynes' genre-hopping career has been nothing if not an exploration of identity. So if Hynes' time with Test Icicles represents early teenage angst, and Lightspeed Champion is the melancholic bewilderment of the early twenties, then surely Blood Orange is the assured, almost full-blown, adult? Not quite. Although the quest for personal discovery never truly ends, there comes a time when we stop looking inward and begin to question our place in the wider picture, fraught with injustice, prejudice, and peers who are just as lost. The struggle with identity and its interaction with the world is perfectly captured within the 17 tracks of Freetown Sound; often confusing, with multiple overlapping thoughts, the album charts a parallel course through Hynes' personal reflections on race and gender, and his impetus to call out the obstacles shared by all those who consider themselves outsiders. Hynes' reflection is far-reaching, going all the way back to the capital of Sierra Leone's complex history -- where his father was born -- for its thematic roots. The complex tapestry is woven from the present, though, "Augustine" being a fine example of this as Hynes discusses his parents, his current situation, and the effect that Christianity has had on all of their lives. He quotes Saint Augustine, references Trayvon Martin, and even sings in Krio toward the end; that's all achieved in less than five minutes. Considering that the album clocks in at around an hour, it's easy to imagine the overall density. There are so many ideas, guest appearances, and samples that Hynes transcends the concept of a personal record; Freetown Sound is the closest you'll get to being Devonté Hynes' mind, body, and soul. Such a complex experience makes the first listen challenging; the first half of the album swims past in a woozy, yet harmonious, deluge of expressions, thoughts, and feelings. Initially, latching onto something concrete proves difficult, but around halfway the picture becomes a little more focused. "Hands Up" and "Hadron Collider" mark the change; the latter track, with its standout guest vocal from Nelly Furtado, shines in particular. There are so many collaborators here, but none really stand out like Samantha Urbani or Skepta did on Cupid Deluxe. They instead seem to represent the circle of influence and influencers present in Hynes' life; there's always been an argument that identity is a reflection of the company you keep. The number of guests present, whether with full vocals or just short clips, only goes to show how far Hynes has expanded his sphere in the last three years. The record is so personal that the only one able to understand every layer is Hynes himself. As a result, Freetown Sound can come across as weighty, indecipherable chaos to some. But for anyone who can relate to him on some level, it's hard not to be in awe of a man as complicated as Devonté Hynes being able to compose such an insightful, personal experience.

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Product Details

Release Date: 08/19/2016
Label: Domino
UPC: 0887828036929
catalogNumber: 80369
Rank: 75671


  1. By Ourselves
  2. Augustine
  3. Chance
  4. Best to You
  5. With Him
  6. E.V.P
  7. Love Ya
  8. But You
  9. Desiree
  10. Hands Up
  11. Hadron Collider
  12. Squash Squash
  13. Juicy 1-4
  14. Better Than Me
  15. Thank You
  16. I Know
  17. Better Numb

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Blood Orange   Primary Artist
Debbie Harry   Vocals
Chris Egan   Drums
Nelly Furtado   Vocals
Devonté Hynes   Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,scratching,Cello,Drums,Keyboards,Vocals,EWI,Juno
Jason Arce   Saxophone
Carly Rae Jepsen   Vocals
John Kirby   Keyboards
Patrick Wimberly   Bass,Percussion,Drums
David Ginyard   Bass
Lorely Rodriguez   Vocals
Ian Isiah   Vocals
Ava Raiin   Vocals
Kelsey Lu   Vocals
Aaron Maine   Acoustic Guitar
Zuri Marley   Vocals
Bryndon Cook   Vocals
Benjamin Morseberger   Guitar
Bea1991   Vocals

Technical Credits

Rodney Franklin   Composer
Charles Mingus   Composer
Eddy Grant   Composer
Chris Amoo   Composer
Nelly Furtado   Composer
Devonté Hynes   Arranger,Composer,Producer,drum machine,drum programming
Waliou J. Badarou   Composer
Patrick Wimberly   Composer,Producer
Edward Amoo   Composer
Adam Bainbridge   Composer,Producer
Lorely Rodriguez   Composer
Aaron Maine   Hook
Beatriz De Rijke   Composer
Ashlee Haze   Composer

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