Electronic R&B trio The Flavr Blue wrote and produced their new album, “Blue Dream,” as a creative means to rise above difficult times — whether personal or political — and to channel the verve of summer on the West Coast.
Electronic R&B trio The Flavr Blue wrote and produced their new album, “Blue Dream,” as a creative means to elevate above difficult times — whether personal or political — and to channel the verve of summer on the West Coast. The record, says vocalist Hollis Wong-Wear, aims to reclaim “our time, our joy — and to generate that from within.”
Wong-Wear — a poet, community organizer and Grammy-nominated singer for her work on the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis album “The Heist” — is often on the front lines of social movements, most recently as a part of the Peoples Party in support of Nikkita Oliver’s mayoral campaign. But for someone unafraid to spit, “It’s 2017 and there’s Nazis in the White House,” as she does on “Fetti & Spaghetti,” the likely club hit from the 14-track “Blue Dream,” Wong-Wear is just as likely to chill out with band mates Lace Cadence and Parker Joe and make some relaxed music.
The trio will celebrate the release of their summery new album on Oct. 27th with an all-ages show at Easy Street Records.
And on the new record, the band’s signature smooth modalities shine. Each member blends smiling moods and celebratory euphoria while simultaneously coming to grips with realities of loss that shape their futures. Offering a bit of rise-above-it fun, Wong-Wear sings on the album’s opening track, “Top Down,” “I got skyscrapers staring ‘cuz I’m going up / 700 floors ain’t high enough / I’m talkin’ penthouse in the ozone / take a space shuttle to my front door.”
“Connectivity is a huge theme in what we’ve created,” Wong-Wear says of “Blue Dream,” the band’s latest since 2015’s “Love Notes.” But connectivity, of course, is a two-way street. It can lead to either closeness or separation. And, for Wong-Wear, who is both in a long-distance romantic relationship and a long-distance musical relationship (Cadence and Joe live in Seattle whereas she spends much of her time between the Emerald City and Los Angeles), ideas of proximity feature prominently in her work.
The artist’s pangs of distance are felt most sharply in the song “Picture Perfect.”
On the track, Wong-Wear paints the scene of two lovers living time zones away. Their lives are on different schedules but there is hope to feel that breezy, grinning face-to-face love again. “With time and space the heart grows fonder,” she sings, “don’t really wanna wait much longer / I know you’re there but I rather you were here with me.”
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Despite the pining for rediscovered closeness, a great deal of “Blue Dream” remains dancey and cheerful. It’s the product of the artists mining their spirits for all the glee they can muster. “We feel most like ourselves on this album,” says Wong-Wear. “After years of trying new things, experimenting, creating in different genres, this is very much our signature sound and who we are as producers and songwriters.”
But to be a songwriter, she says, ultimately necessitates a serious sense of personal responsibility. This is made most obvious on the album’s final song, “All On Me,” which provided the band an opportunity for much introspection. “Being a musician, there are tons of highs and lows,” Wong-Wear explains, “For a while we were doing everything ourselves, though we have a great team now. But at the end of the day, it’s on the three of us to survive this creative and political climate. No one else is going to make our careers, lives or destinies. It’s on us.”