Recommended Tracks: “Elemental”, “Poet Of The Damned”, “So Long Mr. Fear”
Artists You May Like: Rufus Wainwright, FINNEAS, Cavetown
For years, Imaad Wasif has connected with audiences through five solo albums and joint ventures in groups like Lowercase, Electric Flower Group, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Those familiar with his work or with any of these bands can pick up that Imaad has an undeniable versatility, able to seamlessly move from genre to genre. For the most part, though, he has prevented himself from getting too close to fans with his music, “for fear that some great mystery would be dispelled,” as he so puts it. But on his latest album, So Long Mr. Fear, Imaad shows that he is not afraid to connect on a deeper level. After taking a more intimate approach to his songwriting while in lockdown during 2020, he gives us 11 tracks that reveal more exposed productions to best express his unhinged thoughts.
Imaad brings us to a few dark places on the album, as we hear on songs like “Poet Of The Damned.” Throughout the track, he depicts his reality through the scope of a sci-fi movie with lines like, “I cannot explain how I broke the chain of command / Or how I came to be the poet of the damned” and “I caught you crawling out of a newfound wasteland / To see my downfall as the poet of the damned.” With backing vocals from Karen O and haunting string work, the scene is complete. On “Place In The Dark,” the mood is brighter with warm guitar, but the lyrics remain heavy. Imaad sings through resounding vocals, “Hold your head in my hands / Let your tears wash away” and “Into the shadows you disappear / And the starlight scatters,” watching it all fall apart.
The light does break through, however, on other songs, preventing the album from being completely masked in shadow. We have the dreamy “Painted On,” full of mystical chords and light vocals that touch on love and hope. There is also the rustic-sounding “I Am Free,” which finds Imaad celebrating how far he has come in life, even though he is still unsure of where he is going. A more confident Imaad emerges on the title track, however, as he confronts his demons. Over persistent pings of the keyboard, he sings, “I wanna fly out of your shadow / I wanna make it on my own / Do you realize / I don’t know the way back home?” unafraid of what is to come.
The lyrics on So Long Mr. Fear are poetic in nature, giving these tracks a meditative and almost philosophical quality. On the opening track “Elemental,” Imaad woos us with lines like “Though I’ve torn your heart away / I cannot stay too long / I offer you a rose so black to pledge my love upon.” The deep reflecting continues on “Fader,” as Imaad shares, “It’s been trippin’ me up inside since I came here / And I won’t be satisfied ‘til I lose / Hanging on to life as a fader / Too wasted to realize the absolute.” His descriptions are mesmerizing, like “Hold onto this alchemy / Embers in the burning breeze” on closing track “Jealous Kind,” where we also hear profound statements such as “You and I / We can never be wrong or be true.”
In closing, So Long Mr. Fear, is a vulnerable offering. It is always a bold move to bare your soul or the inner workings of your mind with an audience, and sometimes it can be too much. Yet, Imaad has found a great balance between reality and fantasy, knowing when to get lost in certain thoughts and when to pull it back with others. The emotional complexity that comes through in his voice, words, and accompanying instrumentals is also noteworthy, making us feel a strong connection to all he conveys. For anyone looking to release any lingering thoughts or in need of keen advice, So Long Mr. Fear is the album to choose.
You can listen to So Long Mr. Fear on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.