By Nicholas Volpe
Local Music Journalist
Album: Slow Burn
Release Date: Feb. 22, 2019
Crossover jazz-influenced music seems to be making a huge splash in both the popular and underground music scenes today. Just a quick listen to KTSW’s radio station will likely give you evidence of this recent trend. And while Austin and other larger cities in Texas may be home to a few notable names making waves in the jazz crossover genre, San Marcos is very fortunate to have a great group of musicians to call our own. With a solid new release, four-piece Blumoon are likely to make their name known with their newest album Slow Burn.
Blumoon is fronted by vocalist Kendra Sells and backed by drummer Issac Pulido, Andrew Harkey, and keyboardist Taylor Louis who also produced, mixed, and mastered the album. Beginning with the instrumental track “Intro” and the second track “Familiar,” Blumoon starts out hot and ends up cool. The smooth keyboard sounds and downtempo beat on “Familiar” are a sharp contrast to the upbeat feeling of “Intro.” Sell’s dual vocals and self-harmonies on “Familiar” make the chorus both catchy and moving. With lyrics that state, “Time don’t seems so linear with heartbreak so familiar” and a chorus that repeats the words “Break the chain,” we know that Sell’s words aren’t to be taken lightly.
The album’s next track, “Depressed Again,” plays even more into Sell’s own lyrical sensibilities and possible vulnerabilities. With vocoder-laden vocals during the jazzy bridge breakdown, Slow Burn begins to show why it will set Blumoon apart from other crossover bands. Louis’s recording and keyboard work are spot-on and the band’s generous use of synthesizers gives them a very strong and unique edge. Everything from the avant-garde and beautiful “Grass Stains” to the synth-dipped soul ballad “Dark Star” has a feeling of something very new and fresh and yet, there is a certain unremembered nostalgia evident throughout the album. The synthesizers help to do this; the tones are reminiscent of 80s R&B and soul legends such as The S.O.S. Band or Mtume. The rhythm section also helps to make a huge difference on Slow Burn. The wild and contained drumming of Pulido compliments the bass styling of Harkey. With tones and time signatures locked in, it’s easy to see that Blumoon are very talented musicians.
Overall, Slow Burn does exactly what the name implies. The album definitely has a few standout tracks but as a whole, Blumoon has made an album where every track is good. At the same time, they’ve made an album where every track is different; no two tracks have the same feeling or tone. It is exciting to see where such a young and talented band may end up and it is a privilege to have them in our small town. If you have a chance to see them live, I would suggest you do it. Until then, give Slow Burn a listen.