Rae Davis: Positive Thinking!

That Rae Davis gives shout-outs to J Dilla, Madlib, Telefon Tel Aviv, and Flying Lotus should give you some idea of where his head's at. On his debut outing Positive Thinking, the twenty-four-year-old producer serves up a stylish, late-night boom-bap that merges funk, soul, hip-hop, and jazz into an oh-so-tasty hybrid. Davis generally keeps the BPM on the low end during the disc's thirty-nine minutes, which only boosts the nine tracks' seductive character; nothing objectionable either about his preference for concision with each track making its case forcefully before graciously stepping aside.

The album starts with a few seconds of what sounds like Davis puttering around the house before “Yesterday's History” kicks in with a loping jazz-funk groove that Miles would lust after were he still alive. “Pyramids” turns dreamy when a fluttering flute solos over the track's laid-back flow, after which “I Could Write a Book” (which isn't Davis 's take on the Rodgers and Hart standard, by the way) presents a soulful slice of Rhodes-kissed electro-funk. Dig if you will the fabulously tight groove stoked in the aptly-titled “This I Dig of You” where a woodsy acoustic bass performs a seductive tango with jazzy Rhodes accents and funky drumming before shifting the focus to tablas and a trumpet's languorous musings; hard to believe but the deep head-nod Davis cooks up in “Shook” may be even sweeter. A remix of “This I Dig of You” by Textual ends the album in relatively superfluous manner but we'll excuse it when the original sounds so good the second time around. Nice!

July 2008