West Coast Neo-Soul Music Finds its New Home in Giveon's Debut | TAKE TIME
Evan Dale // Mar 31, 2020
Few artists over a shorter span have been able to make more of a statement and a stamped presence than Long Beach baritone, Giveon. And so much of that is owed to the nature of his vocal delineation in the first place. Unlike so many in modern Neo-Soul and R&B, Giveon is a man of low range, whose unique approach to a lane highlighted by the high-marked vocalism of other male singers – think the likes of Daniel Caesar and DVSN – is different and rare off the cuff.
From first listen, Giveon – and a short list of parallel Soul vocalists like the UK’s Kwaku Asante – makes an individualistic impression with a wider range than any other vocalist in music. And beyond that first impression, nothing but more unique Soul explorations extending past the realm or the care of his one-of-a-kind voice await.
It was 2018’s Garden Kisses that got his current run started, but most are aware of Giveon’s 2019 label debut, LIKE I WANT YOU. The single is to this day, his most notable hit. Finding its place deep in the lineup of what is now his debut project, TAKE TIME, it’s obvious that the single was a mere taste of the broad, experimental lane he was always destined to further exhibit with a full-length collection.
TAKE TIME doesn’t sound like other debuts. Perhaps it’s the overarchingly different emotional boundaries belayed by a singer with a lower register that leave it a short half-hour of emotionally mature, spring-time ballads. But more likely is the simple fact that Giveon is a refined, practiced vocalist as seamlessly able to craft storyline as he is able to evoke a painfully wide swath of emotion. As an artist, he’s already a veteran of his craft, whether or not his canon speaks to it.
TAKE TIME may run for 24 minutes, but Giveon’s debut requires almost no time at all to envelop a listener in something that is at one time – unlike anything they’ve ever heard while also feeling so uncannily familiar. Akin to many great artists, familiarity is rooted in relatability; relatably love-struck, relatably haunted by loss, relatably trying to blaze a unique trail; relatably left spinning under the weight of it all, Giveon’s TAKE TIME is a thesis on vulnerability and the desire to escape at times with the hand of another, and at times necessarily alone.
Tally up the expanse of emotional relatability to the need to express the range of his feelings and his craft within the length of a debut EP. It’s the same underlying necessity that drives so many opening R&B and Neo-Soul projects to be so unendingly laced with passion. And still, Giveon’s is different.
Texturally, much of the project breathes of the Southern California warmth that raised Giveon as a man and an artist. Beachy guitar strums and falsetto explosions dictate the sunshiny vibes of THIS AIN’T LOVE. HEARTBRAKE ANNIVERSARY rides a collection of subtle keystrokes and organic percussion that speaks straight to fellow LA native, SiR’s emotive explorations of the Pacific Coast. Like his LA soul contemporaries, Giveon’s music seems to soundtrack his journey meandering the palm-lined streets of his city in search for something illusive.
But as far as most things that escape young artists are concerned, crafting an emotionally mature, sonically diverse classic debut fails altogether to elude Giveon with TAKE TIME.