Gliding out of the silence with an exquisite melodicism that will only grow stronger over the next few minutes, a supple groove is waiting to greet all who press play on Darrell Kelley’s “The Coronavirus” this spring, but as infectious as this opening salvo of instrumentation is, it’s but a means of introducing us to the first layer of a robustly multidimensional composition from a truly one of a kind voice in modern R&B. Kelley’s voice soon enters the mix, warning us to stay home amidst all of the concern over spreading COVID-19, but it isn’t until he begins to sing that we start to feel the depth of his passion and, far more importantly, the weight of his words as it was meant to be appreciated.
Kelley’s voice sprinkles fragments of a heavenly harmony throughout the whole of “The Coronavirus,” but there’s rarely an instance where it takes away from the haunting elegance of the instrumentation unfolding beside it. There are a lot of different ways that we can analyze this track; instrumentally speaking, it’s far too experimental to be relegated to the pop/R&B category without some sort of alternative asterisk, while on the lyrical end of things, it’s both blunt in its statements and yet totally poetic and multi-interpretive depending on how you look at the relationship between its verses. The mix itself is tough as nails and reminiscent of a Plastic Beach-era Gorillaz, but for as nice a varnish as this single enjoys, its substance is always the most alluring of all its features.
Towards the midway point in “The Coronavirus,” the equalization on the vocal track becomes brutishly scooped, as if to suggest a sudden shift in emotions on the part of Kelley from behind the mic, and where some might look at dynamics like this as being a bit too left-leaning to secure their creator a place in the hearts of mainstream audiences everywhere, I think they’re going to be the primary catalyst for bringing Darrell Kelley out of the underground shadows and into the limelight of the primetime stage (where I think his gifts would be treated with the respect that they’re irrevocably entitled too). He’s got the skillset to roll with the best in this game, and if that wasn’t obvious before this release, I think it will be made more than clear with the success he finds in 2020.
“The Coronavirus” fades into oblivion in as surreal a style as it first comes into focus, and due to its short running time – just a little over three minutes in total – it’s easy to play this track all over again simply to get another sampling of its heroically hybrid hook. Darrell Kelley has been on my radar for over a year now, but I don’t know that he’s shown us anything quite as versatile as this most recent release prior to dropping “The Coronavirus” just last month. Those who were quick to pass his work over would do well to give him a second listen on the strength of this material, which I would say is some of the best in alternative R&B these days.
The music of DARRELL KELLEY has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division. Learn more https://musikandfilm.com
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