Written by Grayson Jones
A postmodernist, award-winning singer/songwriter that’s been compared to artists like Amos Lee & Tracy Chapman has spent years of his life creating roots music- with a unique point of view.
The album under review is American Descendant of Slavery (ADOS). This project dwells on Terry Blade as an African American and his perspective on post-slavery America.
In one word, this piece is relentless. Personally, I am a developed listener and advocate for conscious music. More often, it’s easier to appreciate art with intentional substance. It takes careful thought and consideration. For Terry, the multicultural awareness put into this album comes from personal experience. The unique Broadway delivery of his track, Crawling, can only come from a unique upbringing.
Terry Identifies as gay. Being part of two cultures that are actively discriminated against can put him into a situation where his music, at times, is the only outlet where his voice is considered with minimal bias. Even still, the entertainment industry is relentless and people will find any reason not to like your art. Terry reciprocates that energy in a positive manner on ADOS. The aforementioned is important to his songwriting. At many points like in Black Hurts he explains how he didn't ask for this, but he dealt with it. The delivery from the album never let’s up for a moment by addressing the feelings he conjures into meaningful sounds. The feeling of weight being lifted off of his soldiers when he explains to his family that he is gay. An emotional delivery of relief here was a cornerstone of this album for me. In the track Ms. Mizell he comes out with it, but instead of leaving space for the news to resonate the song becomes brighter with harmonic bass progressions. Making something a norm is one of the first steps to change. What they did here musically reminded me of the Seine river in France; A trademark for true love.
Terry doesn’t just stop there.
The album complements some of the most afro-influenced genres of music, it really sets the tone of blues and hardship. Instrumentation on INward, The Silent Treatment, and MTF, brought funk and jazz to the album, where it was needed. They're some points where I feel the album can be developed. Some songs are filled with vocals with only Terry’s voice to be heard, bare of backs and Adlibs. This can make a song feel empty. It’s not all bad though, the music is rich in lyricism and witty imagery that vocally, a raw voice delivers the messages in a more clear manner. If you are a person who likes your albums with some structure, Terry does one better. ADOS, goes along what song I think feels like a chronological order to how Terry learned to cope with the indifferences amongst his community.
As the tracks progress, Terry shares relatable insight on how one would feel in his shoes. As a songwriter, the time and care it takes to craft something like this can only take someone who has lived through it first hand. Such a firm understanding of his life makes the lyrics on ADOS a captivating piece of work. Some runs melodically make Terry sound commercial. Initially I would say that tunes like some on Same Gender Loving wouldn’t be appropriate for the type of album this is, but Terry’s unique style of production makes it work for him. The release of this album should be weight off of Terry’s shoulders, judging by the time and how thorough he was with each track. Relentless passion and history, chalked peacefully into one project here for you.
Listen to American Descendant of Slavery, releasing on February 5, 2021.