Music News


Oakland-based R&B singer Goapele spends plenty of time on her second album describing the indelible virtues of everlasting love. Example: "First Love," a lush slow jam with fluttering electric guitar and tinkly Motown piano in which she flashes back "six days into spring where our story begins," recounts her slow realization that a "magical moment" doesn't always arrive to tell you something's right, even when it is. Yet Goapele, the daughter of a politically active Jewish mother and a politically active South African father, also uses her records to voice dissatisfaction with society's direction — atypical fodder for music as sensual and luscious as this. She opens Change It All with snatches of conversation that sketch out her platform. "I didn't vote for Bush, and you didn't," one woman says. "How did this happen?" Another man admits, "I would love to see black-on-black crime change." Her message hits harder in song, of course. In the title track, Goapele laments the closure of libraries, small businesses, and schools, marveling that teachers she knows are compelled to work for free. "Basically, there are people left out from living comfortably," she sings over bleeding-heart fuzz bass. "Can't we figure it out?"

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Mikael Wood