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Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx: We're New Here

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After career-killing problems with drugs and the law, Gil Scott-Heron emerged from a deep slumber with his 2010 album I'm New Here. On it, Scott-Heron - once black music's foremost social commentator - showed his age with wheezy, whiskey-worn vocals. Yet there was a proud defiance in the way he refused to let his most haunting tribulations get the best of him. Still, while I'm New Here was a pleasant surprise, the remixed version handled by Brit-pop master Jamie xx adds new dimensions to Scott-Heron's already complex persona. We get the same hoarse musings on profound themes of love, anxiety and oppression (both self-induced and not), but they're made more interesting by Jamie xx's willfully bizarre arrangements. "Home" in particular soars to a feverish climax of off-kilter drums and synth whooshes. But the biggest payoff comes on CD-closer "I'll Take Care of U," which is tender and plaintive enough to suggest that this mopey gunslinger wants to remedy his past mistakes. (4 out of 5 stars)

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