It's been immensely satisfying to see soul prodigy D'Angelo make a staggeringly powerful comeback in the face of the personal and professional demons that rendered him missing-in-action for the majority of the 00's (GQ's superb profilefrom this past summer sheds light on this). His long-spoken-of third album, which will follow 2000's Voodoo(easily one of the top 5 albums of the past decade and by-far the best R&B/soul album from the 00's), is still little more than an abstract promise of some kind, but new material has been creeping into his recent live sets. "The Charade" in particular offers proof that the man has not lost an ounce of his genius in spite of some very public setbacks that have seemingly permanently derailed the careers of other infinitely talented musicians (e.g. Lauryn Hill). If his third album follows in the vein of "Charade," this record will without question act as a watershed achievement standing high above the mass disappointment of our stale current pop music landscape.
"The Charade" as of now only exists in fan videos shot from some early performances from this past year in Europe, as well as one from the House Of Blues in LA from this past independence day, and although the audio quality might not always be ideal, it's sonic richness is easy to grasp and imaginatively flesh-out within one's head-space. The best song Prince never wrote, "Charade" hearkens to the most beautifully psychedelic of Prince's mid-to-late 80's run (e.g. the intimately strange "The Ballad Of Dorthy Parker," the powerful "Mountains," the unimpeachable "Pop Life"), but even with its obvious debt to a towering influential musical master, the song never force-feeds the nostalgia. D'Angelo uses this influence as the sort-of building block all great artists who wish to learn and expand upon the masterpieces of their idols while touting their own individuality must strive to craft. It's his song after all, and by the time the bridge passes and the intensity increases ten-fold and taken into transcendent territory by an absolutely wall-shattering solo from former Time axeman Jesse Johnson, it's evident that nobody in the past decade has really approached music with this seemingly effortless passion and masterful sense of composition and arrangement.
Enough babbling, see for yourself:
The audio on this video is rather blown-out, but this in its own way heightens the intensity of the song. Not perfect, but we take what we can get at this point: