- Odd bedfellows as they might seem, minimal's clinical precision and the trembling passion of vintage soul have been entwined throughout Alan Abrahams' career. As Portable, the South African producer has made intriguing connections between the two genres, with ballads sung in a drowsy, soulful baritone over repetitive electronic grooves.
On Alan Abrahams, his first album in five years, he continues to explore that style with "Say It's Going To Change," which will be catnip to fans of tracks like 2010's "Find Me" on Perlon. But for the most part, his soul side has the upper hand here. "As For Me" and "Your Warrior" are constructed more as songs than dance tracks. The arrangements of strings and guitar, provided by Aletchko and Knox Chandler, are every bit as velvety as Abrahams' vocals.
The album's title suggests it's Abrahams' most personal work to date, and the lyrics confirm as much. In every song, he's either waiting hopefully for a lover's return or reflecting on their loss. But while he lays himself bare lyrically, he doesn't always do so musically. Both "Closer" and "Standby" begin as sparse piano ballads, only to be crowded with electronic effects that drown the sense of intimacy in Abrahams' yearning voice. Granted, he could be trying to evoke love's most overwhelming sensations, but it also seems like he's not confident enough to let his songwriting stand alone.
Abrahams doesn't need his voice to tell a compelling story, and many of the highlights here are almost entirely instrumental. With no more than a mantric repetition of its title, "More Than" is the most straightforward dance track here, bursting with drama in the rattling percussion and tenebrous synths. The incredible "The Year My Dreams Came True" has a pensive piano line that wanders over a tense beat. He's said this album was partly inspired by his decision to give up drinking and drugs, and the skittish drumming and wavering drones in "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Drinker" convey the morning after's cold regrets without saying a word. Alan Abrahams has its flaws, but when expressing the man's emotions, it's nothing but honest.
01. Your Warrior feat. Kinoo, Aletchko & Johannes Schön
02. Say It's Going To Change
03. Closer feat. Knox Chandler
04. More Than
05. As For Me feat. Kinoo & Aletchko
07. The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Drinker
09. The Year My Dreams Come True
10. This Frozen Lake feat. Kinoo