Noah & Shagabond Welcome Emotional New Era of Electro-R&B with Debut,
Everything, All at Once
Evan Dale // Nov 6, 2018
From Toronto and Los Angeles, where we expect the innovatively molded and craftily inventive, has come a project surprising even amongst a competitive backdrop. Especially in cities where hip-hop, R&B, and electronica have come to call international capitals, an abundance of music is constantly flooding from LA and Toronto’s streets leaving the corpses of talented and vivacious creatives in its hyper-saturated wake. So, when a youthful project works its way through the madness and finds itself not only catching significant footing, but drastically changing up the scene in the process, you know it must be something to hear.
By way of the impeccable taste at Majestic Casual Records, high-tone crooner, Noah and established electro-groove force, Shagabond have come to fruition on their 2018 collaborative project, Everything, All at Once.
There is something particularly form-fitting of its title, hinting at the full tonal spectrum of the emotional breadth it evokes. Warming up, cooling down, getting wet, and toweling off seem to be in constant effect, feverishly attacking the subconscious of its listener. And the magic is all in the chemistry. Somewhere between the soft yet mature vocal delivery of Noah’s high-tone range and the smooth, hyper-clean production of Shagabond who from the early 2010’s electronic bubble has been massaging the sensitive end of the sonic spectrum, the two have developed a perfected take on the faultless, poppy, at times boyband-ish R&B ballad in all its forms. In effect, Everything, All at Once is a thesis on electronic R&B and variations of its future sure to be influenced by this very project.
To say a balance exists between Noah and Shagabond would be entirely dependent on how balance is defined. At a single-track scale, one of the two seem to dominate the sonic space, driving the direction of a track while still very much allowing the other to incorporate their push on its existing pull. As a full project and even present in Arouse and Stars on singular levels, balance is kept in the way that it is in an emotio-sonic wave pool, rising and falling, grasping and releasing dominant elements and acoustic driving forces in order to propel the project.
What needs to be recognized is just how much of a bookmarking feat that truly is. Since its start, hip-hop has been delineated by relationships between rapper and producer, but until this moment in music history, the same cannot be said for R&B. In the last year or two however, music has been undergoing the beginnings of a new R&B golden era marked by the limelight careers of Daniel Caesar, SiR, Brent Faiyaz, Ravyn Lenae, H.E.R., dvsn, SZA, Sabrina Claudio and many, many more. And much of their combined success is owed to their full-stop dive into their own musicality, that of their production, and the relationship between the two.
And that paved the way for a duo like Noah and Shagabond to pull together a profound, top-shelf project merging their sonically complimentary worlds. The result is neither R&B nor electronica nor poppy boybandish bliss, but something in the unearthed grey area in between. In that inventiveness and ground-breaking structure, it’s a masterpiece.
A calming, building Intro very much at home at the project’s front door sets the tone for the unexpected in the quarter-hour to come. Helium is a productional flex by part of Shagabond and his knack for pulling together UK-reminiscent electro-funk compositions where a talented vocalist like Noah has no trouble shining à la Sam Smith, MNEK, and Will Heard. From there, Noah takes the reigns and delivers a trio of sensual baby-makers with an electronic twist, Arouse, Steam, and Genuine. To close it out Shagabond again steals the show with another high-energy production worthy of a sample as perfected as Noah’s.
Though their respective effect on each track shifts and adjusts throughout, Noah & Shagabond have delivered one of the most dynamic and curiously balanced projects in the new era of producer / R&B vocalist collaborations. Everything, All at Once is an impossibly strong debut from a duo inventing as they go, opening the door wider for R&B’s future, and handing out a handful of blueprints in the process.