Reviewing music has never been one of my strengths, as evidenced by my lack of music coverage over the years (both here and for other publications/websites). I love music, and it is an integral part of my life, but as a writer, I lack the skills to adequately do service to the music that moves me. But every once in a while something comes along that I feel so strongly about, that I just want to tell everyone I know, “Listen to this.” That’s how I feel about The Pledge, the new solo album from Living Colour singer Corey Glover.
A long time in the coming, The Pledge is Glover’s follow up to his 1998 solo album, Hymns. In and of itself, the solo album is a tricky prospect, especially for singers who’ve built a reputation in front of a band. The solo album is all about finding the right balance between the music for which they’ve become known, and exploring territories not traveled within the body of their band. For Living Colour, that territory has been the world of rock, with Glover providing some of the most consistently distinctive vocals in the world of hard rock. Glover sounds like a soul or gospel singer that went over to the dark side—as a singer he is one part angel and one part demon. This dichotomy is made all the more clear with The Pledge, an eclectic mix of powerhouse rock and soulful ruminations.
The Pledge starts out strong with “Clear,” arguably one of the best tracks on the album, and a highpoint of Glover’s solo career. If “Clear” is a testimony to what Glover is capable of as a rock vocalist, then “Sweet Liberation” is where he allows the soul singer inside to shine. These two tracks showcase the dexterity and complexity of Glover’s talents, while “Toxic” is an example of how Glover can bring it all together into one song. And if these three songs were the best The Pledge had to offer, that would be fine—especially in this day and age of buying individual songs as digital downloads. But the fact of the matter is that there is not a single weak track to be found on this album. Glover covers a lot of musical ground, but the album never loses its way—it never strays into the limbo of musical uncertainty that often defines other solo ventures. And perhaps most important, The Pledge never becomes a wannabe Living Colour album. As a group, Living Colour does what they do exceptionally well, and there would be no point in Glover trying to do that thing without those guys. Instead, he has recorded and album that is in service to his vocal strengths, and has left me with nothing more to say other than “Listen to this.”