Aaron Frazer: Into The Blue [Album Review]

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Aaron Frazer
Into The Blue
Dead Oceans [2024]

Album Overview: Aaron Frazer’s sophomore album, Into the Blue, updates his smooth soul sound and shows the singer and drummer isn’t afraid to branch out. An integral member of Durand Jones & The Indications, Frazer’s first album (2021’s Introducing…) felt like a natural extension of that band’s 60s and 70s soul influence; but on Into the Blue, Frazer starts to carve out a clearer sense of his own musical identity.

Musical Style: Into the Blue still fits firmly into the neo-soul genre, but this time around the production is more modern overall. Several tracks include samples and hip-hop influenced beats, and there are even some subtle electronic touches here and there. The result is a little less organic than his previous effort, but the trade off is a wider array of sounds from track to track.

Evolution of Sound: While some fans might be slightly disappointed in the record’s more contemporary style, it shows an admirable willingness to try new things and grow beyond the retro soul aesthetic, even if there are a few growing pains involved. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is Frazer’s silky falsetto, which he manages to keep from feeling one-note through his strong songwriting chops.

Artists with Similar Fire: If you like Frazer’s work with Durand Jones & The Indications then you’ll find plenty to like on Into the Blue. Fans of other neo-soul acts like Pale Jay, Bobby Oroza, and Lady Wray will also find it up their alley.

Pivotal Tracks: The album opens strong out of the gate with the catchy, mid-tempo “Thinking of You,” which nicely blends the modern production elements with some classic touches like strings and woodwinds. And while there are some high energy moments like “Payback” (which feels like an homage to OutKast’s “Hey Ya!”), it’s the slower moments that work best, like the layered vocals in “Fly Away,” the Spanish guest vocals from Cancamusa on “Dime,” or the dreamy, almost jazzy closing track “The Fool.”

Lyrical Strength: Frazer has always favored love songs in one form or another, and Into the Blue is no exception to that trend. The lyrics are thoughtful and introspective, but might lean a little heavy on the repetition for some listeners’ tastes.

Introducing… (2021)

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