Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color

Brother Ali

In a giving mood earlier this year, Brother Ali released a free EP, The Bite Marked Heart, which will easily rank among the best of the year. The full-length follow-up dares to at least match the EP’s quality. His first away from longtime producer Ant, Jake One ably steps in with his record collection in tow, full of soul, rock and choral samples. Ant would be welcomed back, but he is not missed. To detail the topics Ali covers here is to insinuate that the album isn’t funky, doesn’t nod your head, and is overwrought and over-serious. Sure, it’s a dense, layered listen. But if anyone could make race, Occupy, suicide, and divorce compelling without pretense, it’s Ali. Highlights are too many to name, though locals should check for his “Namesake,” and the riotous title cut.