Album: When There’s Love Around (2021)
Label: Stones Throw
Genre: Nu Jazz / Downtempo
Record Store: Zia Records, Phoenix, Arizona
Blame it on the algorithm, but when I switched over from Apple Music to Tidal a few months ago, I couldn’t listen to an album or playlist of anything remotely downtempo without being recommended Kiefer, the soulful hip-hop influenced pianist and producer. A cursory glance at his credits reveals piano work on Drake’s Certified Lover Boy, as well as producer or songwriter credits for another dozen or so artists.
It’s easy to see why this young man’s popularity has blossomed as of late; judging by his recent long player ‘When There’s Love Around’, Kiefer’s vibrant style of downtempo jazz is eminently listenable and chill without devolving completely into uber-smooth cocktail jazz (although I’d probably still be a fan of that). A few synths pepper the landscape, either as melody instruments like on ‘crybaby’, or as mood-setting soundscapes like on ‘loving hands.’
The whole album plays like a greatest hits of town and village theme songs from a lost ‘Final Fantasy’ game circa the PS2 era. There’s just something about the twinkling piano melodies, downtempo grooves, and melodic phrasing that brings to mind the shores of Besaid Island. I can practically hear the menu screen click sound effects in the background.
In an eerie case of foreshadowing, ‘When There’s Love Around’ comes pressed in a vibrant blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Its release predated the current conflict by many months.
Thomas Jacob Jr is a Producer, Composer, Singer-Songwriter, Music Educator and Digital Artist currently based in Arizona – Bringing us rare and interesting selections from his extensive Vinyl collection! For more content follow his vinyl-dedicated Instagram account