Leaving behind outdated conventions of separation of studio and stage The Nth Power skipped the middle man on their newest album, Live – To Be Free. Known for their transformative performances, the decision to record their new album live gave The Nth Power a perfect platform to introduce their latest material, and the timing of the release couldn’t be better. As the nation is embroiled in divisive political turmoil with unrest in the streets, the message of unity, hope and love could not be more needed.
Listen to the new Live – To Be Free album, streaming below, and follow along with our in-depth review.
From the outset, the welcoming track “Freedom” sets a broad and hopeful tone for the selections to follow. Guitarist and lead vocalist Nick Cassarino takes the mic to passionately implore listeners to seek peace and to break the bonds that hold them back, but he is not alone in his musical quest. Bassist Nate Edgar promptly sets up shop on the low end of the spectrum, and never wavers in his steadfast adherence to providing a percolating pulse to the proceedings.
In the clarity of Courtney J’Mell Smith‘s wondrously widespread organ fills and synth runs on the first track, the quality of the recording is revealed to be simply stunning. Make no mistake, this is no crowd chatter buzz filled live recording chopped into tracks and rushed out the door. The care and post production so clearly evident throughout this recording is a revelation that speaks volumes to the skill and dedication of everyone involved.
With such a high standard in high fidelity sought and achieved, it is obvious that integrity is important to The Nth Power. On “Truth,” they speak to the heart of that very issue. The three performances that resulted in this live album were done during the heart of the recent political campaign, and “Truth” is a smartly written repudiation of the fear and obfuscation that were on sad display. These first new tracks will surely be emotional touchstones for fans to rally around in the strange years to come.
The intensity lessens for a much needed respite with back-to-back uplifting tracks “Joy” and a special rendition of one of the most beloved tracks from their previous release Abundance, the testimonial “Right Now.” The sheer positiveness of these two tracks alone have the amazing ability to lift even the heaviest of hearts with the power of soul music unfettered. The other songs reworked here from Abundance, “Could It Be” and “Home”, reinforce the overall upbeat message of this collection of songs and truly benefit from these expressive live takes.
The remaining new tunes, “More & More” and “Take My Soul”, merge the band’s spiritual side with their collective desire to kick a little booty while they spread the love. Drummer Nikki Glaspie unwinds ferocious drum rolls and furious fills that make her almost infinite energy on her kit a spectacle above and beyond the magic the band is making. A mid-song crescendo in “More & More” barrels like a runaway freight train thanks to the insane power of Glaspie and the thunder she brings.
Closing out one last plea for love in a darkened world, the organ filled crashing mayhem of “Take My Soul” takes what would be a quieter message to the far end of the rock dial, finally ending with guitarist Cassarino letting loose with a jaw dropping reminder that he does far more than sing. Listening to the last strains of “Take My Soul” as Cassarino pledges himself to the cause of love with a howl from the core of his being you can’t help but want to join him in this impassioned quest. It’s hard to think of a better message than the love at the heart of To Be Free, or a band better suited to spread it than The Nth Power.
Catch The Nth Power at The Blue Note NYC on 12/9-12/10 as the official Chick Corea/John McLaughlin late night shows. Get tickets here.