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Album Review: Dinner Party - Enigmatic Society

Sean Lawrenson reviews the latest album from Dinner Party.

By Sean Lawrenson, First Year English

The collective of expert jazz musicians have once again combined to create a surprise album that, whilst not quite as impactful as its predecessor, still provides a delightful dose of genre-infused goodness.

When the debut EP from jazz supergroup Dinner Party dropped in the middle of 2020, I was enthralled by every track. From the catchiness and profound meaning behind tracks like ‘Freeze Tag,’ to the exceptionally produced, Kamasi Washington led ‘Tree of Life’, everything about the album struck me. Their new album builds upon this previous work in inventive and creative ways. The opening track ‘Answered Prayers’ is a beautiful piano-led track (spearheaded by the fantastic Robert Glasper), perfect for transitioning from Dinner Party into Enigmatic Society.

The next track, ‘Breathe’ featuring vocals from Arin Ray, is an R&B lover’s dream. This is precisely the beauty of a collective as strong as Dinner Party. They move across genres with ease, exploring neo-soul, Jazz, 80’s inspired Synth work and the R&B influence. All of this comes together (in part thanks to its exceptional production) into an EP that has a little something for everyone. These are musicians at the absolute pinnacle of their game, and whilst some may fear that when talented musicians come together to create a supergroup-style project voices might get lost, Dinner Party is an exception to this.

Part of the reason for this is also the features they have on the record. Phoelix once again provides his fantastic vocals to the project and is joined by fellow talents such as Arin Ray, Ant Clemons and Tank. The instrumental-only songs, like in the first EP, are not simply an interlude for the sake of getting from one song to another, but genuinely add to the listener’s experience. You find yourself becoming immersed in this entirely different world, which in my mind is the sign of any good record with a modicum of jazz influence.

Perhaps the main critique I could have with the project is only in relating it to its predecessor. With the self-titled EP in 2020, there felt as if there was an anger in tracks such as ‘Freeze Tag, a protest if you will. This record deals more with the subject of love than it does with protest, not necessarily a negative thing per se, but in time, may diminish its impact and longevity in contrast to the 2020 EP. Nevertheless, Dinner Party have once again released an EP which will delight fans spanning many genres, which is an indictment of the immense talent of every musician involved in the making of such a fine record.

Featured image: Sounds of Crenshaw / EMPIRE

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