Published on June 10th, 2012 | by greg0
Bobby Womack: The Bravest Man In The Universe:: Review
The Bravest Man in The Universe is Bobby Womack’s first album of original material in 18 years. The fact that there is a new Bobby Womack album is a small miracle considering that many had forgotten the Last Soul Brother as he descended into alcohol and cocaine addiction. After being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 and emerging from his dependency, Bobby Womack’s career revival took root with Damon Albarn and “Stylo” the stand out track from the 2010 Gorillaz album Plastic Beach. Following Womack’s work on Plastic Beach, Albarn and XL Recordings’ Richard Russell started recording sessions with Womack for what ultimately became The Bravest Man in The Universe.
The Bravest Man in The Universe has been considered an electronic secular gospel album and is a 180-degree turn from the sound created by the man responsible for “Across 110th Street.” In a way, it’s similar to Gil Scott Heron’s final album I’m New Here that Russell also produced with an electronic sheen. This sheen is partially distracting because it feels cold and impersonal and almost outshines the lyrics and vocals of Bobby Womack. You can almost imagine Russell and Albarn recording the backing tracks in one studio while an alienated Womack is recording his vocals elsewhere.
Once you get past the feeling of disconnect and the odd pairing with flavor of the month Lana Del Rey “DayGlo Reflection,” The Bravest Man in The Universe does offer an intriguing listen in the form of several tracks. Womack’s cover of the spiritual “Deep River” features only his voice and guitar and is a welcome respite from the overproduction given to the rest of the album. The other standout track, “Whatever Happened To The Times” features Womack’s knack for melody but the studio trickery that is applied to his vocal distracts. Considering that The Bravest Man in The Universe will sound dated within months of its release perhaps on Womack’s next album he will consider something a little more timeless.