Canadian singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen, known by his stage name Bahamas, has gifted his fans with more deliciously chill, stripped-down tunes with his new album Earthtones. As the name suggests, the album puts forth more of the same warm, earthy sounds that Bahamas has made himself known for, yet this time around he’s adopted a new soulful, funky style that meshes beautifully with his folk rock roots.
A great example of Bahamas’ development of his new sound occurs right at the beginning of the album with the song “Alone,” which itself could be considered a symbol for Bahamas reaching out stylistically to try new things. This first track starts off with a driving guitar rhythm, with some folky undertones accentuated by reverbing guitar slides. However, interspersed throughout the song are the soulful wails of the gospel-like backup singers, which begin to swell towards the middle and culminate the song with a sweet, uplifting melody. These soulful backup vocals continue to make appearances throughout the album, complementing Jurvanen’s rich, breathy voice with their high-pitched, clear trills.
Perhaps the best portrayal of the vocals occurs in “No Wrong,” the third track of the album. This song bears the seal of Bahamas with its slower, stripped down structure, but with the addition of groovy R&B vocals and bluesy guitar licks. This song seems more personal; with a bittersweet and lamenting tone, the lyrics are whispered almost as if the song was a secret. The vocals likewise steal the show in “Bad Boys Need Love Too.” This song puts out a darker, heavier tone, which in conjunction with the funky guitar and bass line stands out as one of the starkest deviations from Bahamas’ previous sound. The song also features strong, moving lyrics about childhood and the struggles of growing up, portraying Jurvanen’s superb songwriting skills in addition to his mellifluous voice.
Despite his new sound, Bahamas still manages to retain some of the folk influences which are so prevalent in his previous albums. This is apparent in tracks “Show Me Naomi” and “No Expectations,” in which he utilizes heftier electric guitar riffs, producing a more rock-like tone. Likewise, the bluesy track “Any Place” shows Bahamas’ affinity for not just folk, but all roots music.
If you’re looking for some great new music and you’re a fan of blended genres, give Earthtones a try. Bahamas manages to put out chill, groovy music that doesn’t suffer from repetitiveness; each song is unique and different in its own way, and keeps you on your feet while at the same time making you want to lounge and relax with some friends or a book. Overall, I give Earthtones a 4.5/5.