Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie "xx" - We're New Here 

Something old, something new, something borrowed

Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie "xx" - We're New Here
XL Recordings

More an affectionate monument than a remix album, We're New Here is Jamie "xx" Smith's retreatment of Gil Scott-Heron's instantly beloved 2010 LP I'm New Here. The alterations vary between lush expansions — "Running" and "I'll Take Care of You" get warmed up, while spoken tidbits "Parents" and "I've Been Me" attain greater identity — and deconstructions like "NY Is Killing Me," now apocalyptic, and the pounding, provocative opener "I'm New Here." Despite nods to the dance floor, this is no party record — it's a Valentine to an artist, specifically to a voice. Samples of exuberant 1970s work are ingeniously placed alongside the weathered, frayed 2010 vocals; at times it seems the two pieces of the man are conversing.

The liberal use of Scott-Heron's voice as instrument and atmosphere makes him seem far away, no longer alive, and the music becomes an elegy. I'm New Here's implicit meaning was that the man was here to stay. Smith's sacred sense of distance from an idol and legend makes the revisions intriguing, but the stark urgency is missed.

More by Nathan Phillips

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