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Wayne Tennant – Life In A Minor Key – Album Review

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For those looking for a fix of classic R&B, Montreal’s Wayne Tennant has the tip. His latest album Life In A Minor Key mixes styles old and new resulting in an album both familiar and unknown. Emulating classics like Kimbra and R. Kelly, the album pulls some great inspiration, but how does it stand on its own?

The album opens on the melancholy notes of “The Spell” that mixes dark tones with some infectious rhythms to craft a song that moves both emotionally and physically. The vocal booms in the later half of the track push the emotions over the top creating moments that are incredibly soothing. Things get upbeat on “Crash” with arpeggiating synths, deep bass and some light drum machines mixing together to create a smooth dance track perfect for elevating spirits.

The beat takes the steering wheel on “Come Kiss Me (feat. Hitchem Khalfa)” where a mix of horns and whispered vocals find Tennant emulating Kimbra. The background vocals and horn solos add a finessed touch to the song that give it even more class. “In A Box (feat. Nadia Bashalani)” finds Tennant singing a passionate duet on a bass driven yet ambient track with an undeniably wintery feel to it. Every chorus has a bittersweet pop sound to it with hints of Phantogram.

Acoustic guitar brings the album to older R&B on “Pissed” where Tennant sings a throwback breakup song that is still enjoyable despite being fairly derivative of older songs in the genre. “I Only Have One Heart (feat. Ali El Farouk)” is a harmony-driven track that pushes the vocals to the forefront, letting them drive most of the track, with glitchy percussion providing the rest of colour. The ambient guitar solo with bell percussion provide a welcome break in the song and add a slightly exotic feeling to the tail end of the song.

Get Away” goes back to the bass and synth pop that inspires many of the early tracks of the record, with more harmonized vocals to change it up from the earlier tracks. The breakdown in the middle of the track is a delicious stop that lands the technique perfectly. There’s a gritty bass sound lying under “Tell Me” that has the most playful vocals of the album and some interesting Asian-inspired strings adding to the songs syncopated rhythms. The song ends as the beat, harmonies strings and bass come together in perfect sync to create a tapestry of sound that satisfyingly locks into itself.

Die With Me” brings in a dreamy amount of echo to its harp, resulting in a tune that feels like a long lost R. Kelly track. The song’s vocal drop-off feels triumphant before the song ends on a light hip-hop beat outro. The album ends on the commentary heavy “Why (feat. Malika Tirolien)” which finds Tennant talking about what divides people and Tirolien’s soprano cuts through easily to ask similar questions. The duets delivered by the two give the song an edge on the rest of the album and close it on its most impressive number.