hit-C review | Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI - A Guide to happiness


Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI. Released on Friday, May 24th.

I wish this intro could be as swish as the opening track on Apollo XXI.

The jazzy twangs of Only If (.1) set the tempo for an album that teases to be as soulful as it is groovy.

XXI not only delivers but it effortlessly glides you through a myriad of styles that you never realised you enjoyed so much.

(Photo credit:  Alan Lear)

Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI

Take the rumbling strums of bass guitar in Guide (.5) that would raise any jazz bar crowd to their feet and slide them onto the dance floor. It's fiery funk in its most raw form.

In contrast, Amandla's Interlude (.10) takes you on a swaying voyage across the ocean in thought-provoking harmony.

Then there's the echoing symbol roll that strokes along Like me (.2) beyond the five-minute mark and into a jazz-funk lullaby.

This, our favourite tack on the album, has the boldness to pause in dead silence for seven solid seconds before dinging between a sleepy melody and techno-esc shuffle.

XXI switches you from a rocking cradle vibe to rocking funk and rap without you even noticing.

It's fascinating.

Forty-three minutes of chilled-out happiness can be summarised on Basement Jack (.4), which delivers much like Childish Gambino's Summertime yet, somehow, without trying as hard.

Shades of Pharrell are, of course, present throughout, although more-so in N.E.R.D form through the punchy Love 2 Fast (.9) that ends with a rockstar electric guitar solo. 

Steve may carry the tag as the Internet's guitarist and is meretted for his diverse collaborations with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Vampire Weekend but XXI must  be considered among his best work.

Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI review8/10

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