Album Spotlight: Gladwell - "Model Child"

>>Producer and multi-instrumentalist Gladwell’s first LP, Model Child, is a carefully crafted mixtape of instrumental beats and choice rap tracks that presents itself as both something new and familiar. Gladwell has clearly carved out a recognizable sound, with butter smooth synths carrying jazzy and soulful melodies, and clever kit style beats that provide a strong foundation on the lower end.

Gladwell’s background as a drummer is ever apparent, opting for beats that sound lively and hand played rather than painted by numbers in software. His smart incorporation of samples gives select tracks great amount of texture without becoming the focus of the sound. Overall, Model Child contains a tremendous amount of energy that feeds into the duality of crisp rhythm sections and expressive synths that culminates in a fresh and unique sonic signature.

Mr. Rogers, the opening track, is strong number that more than sets the tone for the rest of the LP. The listener is introduced to the track through samples, from which the kick drum explodes into the main rhythm of the song. With such a strong rhythm keeping pace, the samples selected for instrumentation take on a more organic vibe. The specific selections all sound dreamy without being lazy and match the driving rhythm in energy. It’s a familiar style that fans of modern hip hop will recognize and enjoy. Overall, Mr. Rogers is a strong and consistent track that serves as a strong opening number.

Only two songs on this release feature vocals – Milky Way featuring Kid Astronaut and Adelaide featuring Jordan Burgett. Kid Astronaut’s verses are extremely tight with lines cleverly rolling past and behind the beat, with a smooth and sexy hook that ties each section together. The vocal mix is more balanced compared to the other instruments in the track; conversely, Adelaide’s vocals are much more front and center. Burgett’s voice is bursting with emotion and drives the pace of the song, while the kit underneath finds freedom and wanders to match the jazzy synth line. Both tracks are excellent examples of what I find to be Gladwell’s thesis in production – incredible energy everywhere with a balance of tight measures and free expression.

Saltines is another favorite of mine. It’s certainly one of the more creative tracks, and here samples are used to add a subtle amount of texture to the cleaner sound in this production. Sounds of pouring water rush to fill the gaps between the meandering synth and punch bass drum, with other electronic sounds on the high end that compliment the melody. It’s a busy track, but nothing sounds out of place, further demonstrating Gladwell’s command over his skillset.

Model Child is not so much a start as it is a head start; Gladwell demonstrates his ability to not only innovate but identify what current trends work for him and integrate them into his sound. I’m extremely excited to see what Gladwell’s future releases have in store for us, both as a solo artist and as a producer.