Dean Blunt: The Redeemer

Dean Blunt: The Redeemer

At least one party experiences great pain at the end of a close relationship, and occasionally this sorrow results in a breakup album. On a narrative level, The Redeemer pivots around the immediate mental aftermath of such a doomed union, the thoughts running through a male protagonist's mind. Dean Blunt is not known for plainspoken honesty or even openness, but his new album is quite literal, and could perturb listeners superficially drawn to the subterfuge of much of his Hype Williams material. That secrecy is still present on The Redeemer, but Blunt reveals a voice of pain, bitterness, and regret, and with a distinct edge of wary withholding. Album highlight “Demon” combines a frantic, lustful drum loop from Kate Bush’s “Sat In Your Lap” with paranoia and defeated thoughts about his ex-partner: “I suppose, yeah, I wasn’t meant to know you.” Meanwhile, Inga Copeland sits in on vocals, but Blunt quickly mirrors her words, as if saying them to himself after she has. 

These, of course, are universal emotional themes, but Blunt’s stark framing of them feels like something more deliberate than a newfound candor. Lines are delivered not in any expository way, but in stops and starts. Musical figures often repeat like earworms. And there is little cohesion, sonically, to the tracks, though this ultimately results in a fuller-sounding whole. Tracks like “Flaxen” and “Walls of Jericho” feel cinematic, with evocative musical phrases and vocal samples that allude to "offscreen" players. Shorter tracks advance the action, and the album’s heavy sampling, which is not even very veiled, suggests that Blunt has some very specific ideas regarding the relationship between the listener and his character. The samples betray their own sampling, and the listener feels that he’s listening to someone listen.

Songs like “The Redeemer” and “Papi” are captivating on multiple levels, with Blunt displaying a newfound musicality and singing with the heavyhearted nonchalance of Bill Callahan. But while more repetitious songs like “All Dogs Go To Heaven” don’t necessarily stimulate the listener as much, the effect feels intentional, as if these lulls are meant to mimic the breaks in a person’s mental function, with Blunt unleasing something more ambitious and thoughtful the moment he deems our minds to be good for it. At the end of the day, The Redeemer is successful because of the quality songwriting that its own free-floating cognitive atmosphere effectuates. Thematically, it leans heavily on experiences of embarrassment, reclusiveness, and deception— emotions that drive the words, no doubt, but also the album's overall aesthetic, and the relationship between Dean Blunt and the listener. Blunt’s constant presence is not just the circumstance of the solo album, ultimately, but a reminder of unforgiving selfhood. 

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