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Album Review: Jhameel

Erin Donaldson discusses tracks from Jhameel's latest album.

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UC Berkeley alum Jhameel demonstrates refreshing versatility in his sophomore effort, The Human Condition. While previously hailed as the next Sufjan Stevens, he has found his own niche with this collage of bittersweet dream pop. As the title suggests, the album reflects on the experience of being human with what the artist calls "overwhelming love and bitter hatred." Jhameel draws on a wider range of musical influences to illustrate this broad subject matter, allowing The Human Condition to appeal to a more diverse audience.

Jhameel's debut album employed natural sound, using marbles, water and other elements as instruments, and featured rich, processed vocals. The Human Condition abandons this ambient style to dabble in more accessible chamber pop and even pop rock on occasion, a change that works surprisingly well for Jhameel. He unites an otherwise hodgepodge collection of tracks with his signature soprano vocals, which range from rhythmic monotone to almost operatic belting, emulating the mood prescribed by the lyrics of each track. Such adaptability seems necessary for an album concerned with humanity in its entirety.

The Human Condition is an ambitious concept album, especially for a musician who has only recently graduated from college. Yet, Jhameel proves that age does not necessarily determine wisdom, and his lyrics demonstrate a honed ability to observe and empathize with others' experiences. Though he raises controversial topics of war, religion and sexuality, he avoids preaching a political agenda. It is this graceful presentation of philosophy and the album's genre-bending production that will attract a more selective fanbase, though of more varying tastes.

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