Stones Throw Records, 2018


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Kiefer Shackelford is a Los Angeles pianist and producer, who might be best known as a consistent collaborator in Mndsgn's live trio. With a history in studying jazz and plenty of experience making beats since he was preteen, he cites Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans as inspiration and quickly made waves with his debut album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Kickinit Alone. This sophomore installment is a more complicated affair, and chronicles Kiefer's emotional turmoil into themes of joy and sadness.

“Dope Nerd” starts the listen off with keys mashed against beats that sounds like two entirely different songs somehow blending together with muffled horns. “What A Day” follows with a breezy jazz feeling and warm beats, which moves into the key-friendly and breezy lounge feeling of “Highway 46.” “Highway 41” seems like an extension of the previous song, but a little more beat heavy, and “Magnetic,” one of the strongest tunes here, brings a busier atmosphere of lush beauty and hypnotic beats, and plays with boundaries, yielding great results.

The middle of the album illustrates the Herbie Hancock influence on “Socially Awkward,” while Kiefer gets especially retro on “Memories Of U,” where dreamy organs meet synthetic drumming. One of the most dance friendly tunes, “Temper,” resides here with jazzy guitar riffs and vivid keys that ensure you'll have no choice but to get your body moving.

Near the end the funk comes out on “Upwards,” and “AAAAA” concludes the listen with the most lush, sonically artistic tune that does a great job of showcasing his many varied talents that make this album so unique.

There's little doubt that Kiefer is an enormous talent. His skills on the piano and an intimate knowledge of beat-making make this instrumental, downtempo jazz – “an emotional journal of the last year” in his words – a pleasant and thought-provoking listen.

Rating: B

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