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Free Nationals - Free Nationals

Released: 13 December 2019

Empire / OBE Records

Album Rating: 4/5

Favourite Track: ‘Time (featuring Kali Uchis & Mac Miller)

Best known as Anderson. Paak’s live band, the Los Angeles quartet Free Nationals have released their much-anticipated self-titled debut album. With their name paying tribute to the indigenous peoples of America, their deliciously funky debut album seeps creativity and encapsulates the spirit of the West Coast scene.

Comprising of Kelsey Gonzalez (bass), Ron “Tnava” Avant (keyboard & vocoder), Callum Connor (drums) and José Rios (guitar), the quartet has made a big impact working alongside .Paak within the music world. The group have opened for Beyoncé and toured alongside J.Cole, Bruno Mars and many more. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that this 13-track album is a Who’s Who of some of the hottest names on the circuit right now. To name just a few, Free Nationals features artists like Shafiq Husayn, Syd, Kadhja Bonet, Kalis Uchis, Benny Sings, Chronixx, T.I., the late great Mac Miller and of course Anderson .Paak.

Free Nationals opens with ‘Obituaries’, painted with psychedelic and airy instrumentals paired with Shafiq Husayn’s spoken word prose, before sharply flipping into a beat-driven groove with retro synths laid down by Ron "Tnava" Avant. ‘On Sight’ is another psychedelic-flavoured number which sees the quartet team up with electro-soul duo MIKNNA providing the hooks, whilst Kadhja Bonet lends her unmistakably ethereal vocals and JID’s neat flow to add extra spices to the group’s funky grooves. The Internet’s Syd features on 'Shibuya', are her idyllic are met with jazzy keys and cheeky guitar lines.

‘Time’ is, perhaps, one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Khali Uchis’s sonorous vocals blend with the bright and uplifting instrumental lines, whilst the group give sufficient space for Mac Miller’s distinctive verse. The scene is set for Benny Sing’s feature on ‘The Apartment’ with a grand, almost orchestral, entrance before his laid-back vocal style melts with the slow bass riffs and is complemented by bouncing keys and popping guitar phrases.

Free Nationals is a great debut record from the quartet. What is beautiful about this record, is the way in which the Free Nationals’ characteristically funky grooves reflect their character, but also that of all their high-class guests. Filled with flawless performances from each band member, the Free Nationals have forged their own distinctive musical path.


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