Chicago singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Ben LaMar Gay will release his new album Open Arms To Open Us this fall via two of the best record labels going, International Anthem and Nonesuch. He’s introducing it today with the phenomenal opening number “Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks On You.” It’s a rhythmically jittery track that finds warmth within chaos — founded on a subtly violent keyboard melody and tense, jazzy drums by Tommaso Moretti, with Gay’s voice gliding over everything on a wave of organ and synth as the music intensifies. There are vocals in there from Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, aka Chicago indie band Ohmme, along with all kinds of other sonic bluster. Yet Gay keeps everything grounded, singing calmly and tenderly from the eye of the storm.
Besides Ohmme, Open Arms To Open Us features multi-disciplinary Rwandan artist Dorothée Munyaneza, poet A.Martinez, cellist Tomeka Reid, and vocalists Onye Ozuzu, Gira Dahnee, and Angel Bat Dawid. In a press release, Gay says the album title is “a suggestion of a body movement that is used in many spiritual practices and is also a gesture that represents a type of understanding that leads to touch or a hug.” He continues:
Open Arms To Open Us deals with rhythm as an inheritance of information – sort of like DNA or RNA. Coping with the present-day bombardment of data and recycled ideologies from sources essentially fed by the creed “Destroy Them. Own the Earth,” often leaves me with only one thing to look forward to: Rhythm.
Listen to “Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks On You” below.
01 “Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks On You” (Feat. Ohmme)
02 “Hood Rich Happy”
03 “Bang Melodically Bang”
04 “Aunt Lola And The Quail”
05 “Mestre Candeia’s Denim Hat”
06 “Oh Great Be The Lake”
07 “I Be Loving Me Some Of You”
08 “Nyuzura” (Feat. Dorothée Munyaneza)
09 “Slightly Before The Dawn”
10 “Lean Back. Try Igbo” (Feat. Onye Ozuzu)
11 “Dress Me In New Love”
12 “Touch. Don’t Scroll” (Feat. Ayanna Woods)
13 “I Once Carried A Blossom” (Feat. A.Martinez)
14 “In Tongues And In Droves” (Feat. Tomeka Reid)
15 “S’Phisticated Lady” (Feat. Gira Dahnee & Angel Bat Dawid)
16 “We Gon Win”
Open Arms To Open Us is out 11/19 on International Anthem/Nonesuch. Pre-order it here.