Northern Californian musician Mr. Grossman released his brand-new EP/mini-album, Novella, not long ago. Novella is “stories about people dealing with past love, needing courage, comfort, and closure.”
Unlike his previously released singles, “Not the End” and “F.W.I.W,’ which dealt with political themes, on Novella, Mr. Grossman delves into personal topics. The music is a mix of modern R&B and pop, with echoes of Sade, Smokey Robinson, and John Legend. There are also classical Easter eggs (Duruflé and Brahms) for good measure.
Encompassing four tracks, Novella begins with “Any Takers,” featuring Chana Matthews. The song opens on classical strings, low and elegant, followed by the entry of a popping bassline and syncopated percussion. Matthews’ delicious voice imbues the lyrics with uncertainty and potent longing. It’s a grand voice, sultry and evocative.
“Escape” travels on a sparkling yet slightly sad piano. When Mr. Grossman’s smooth voice enters, the tune takes on gentle, quixotic flavors. Full of tender compassion, there’s a latent feeling of hope amid the melancholic tones.
“Intermezzo” injects the EP with a brief acoustic episode highlighted by Mr. Grossman’s dreamy voice. The final track, “Up to Me,” rolls out on a gleaming piano riding a syncopated jazz-flavored rhythm, and then shifts into a low-slung R&B tune showcasing shiny accents and softly streaming strings. Mr. Grossman’s voice, wistful and velvety, infuses the lyrics with indulgent timbres juxtaposed against a pulsating, experimental sound.
Summing up Novella, the best track on the EP is “Any Takers” because of its beautiful, classical intro flowing into luscious sophisti-pop washes colored by hints of R&B and topped by the crème de la crème vocals of Chana Matthews. “Escape” and “Intermezzo” deliver tasty sonic shifts, whereas the cashmere exoticism of “Up to Me” becomes tenuous because of the experimental encounter.
With Novella, Mr. Grossman delivers tasty R&B and pop leitmotifs, engaging rhythms, and compelling vocals, along with experimental tangs.