Singer/Songwriter Tom Baird tells us why ‘Black Messiah’ is his most favourite album
My favourite record in the world is Black Messiah by D’Angelo. I remember discovering it at just the right time – having burned through a lot of guitar rock/indie bands as a teenager, I was ready for something fresh to my ears. I listened to it in full and ended up listening on repeat 5 or 6 times a day for a whole week.
Hearing it is a semi-religious experience – every single listen something amazing pops out that you haven’t heard before – a guitar part, or some background chatter caught on tape, some crazy musical sounding modulation on a vocal, or even hearing a section of a song in a completely different way – the list is literally endless. It was recorded over 13 years, which makes it such an interesting time capsule. The songwriting is incredible, the arrangements are so interesting, and technically it sounds unreal.
I’ve recently been thinking that all my favourite records sound like they’ve absorbed the character and/or history of the places they were recorded in – this is definitely one of those records, most of it was done at Electric Lady in New York and you can tell the respect the musicians have for that space and its history, it’s wild. Everything sounds like it just ‘fits’, which is so cool considering how varied and daring some of the instrumentation and arrangements are. It also has the best beginning to a record I’ve ever heard. You will never get tired of it, it has to be the ultimate desert island disk. Getting introduced to it was such an important turning point for me musically and personally, and I still listen to it regularly. I love it so much and genuinely think it’s a perfect album.
Words by Tom Baird