Jquestt sets the scene and sticks with it on this latest album Vibrations & Vodka, Vol. 1. Too Tipsy For Title kicks things off in a fitting way, laying out the implications of that project name vocally and lyrically, though what you notice first and foremost is how impressive the soundscape surrounding this theme is. The music is spacious and creative, ambient and unique – not your classic hip hop backdrop. At the same time, the vocal delivery is far from your classic hip hop style – the bars vary in length and rhythm, it feels like an appropriately tipsy performance, meandering freely, without rules or concerns. The vibe works well and you quickly grow to connect with the mood and the artist behind it.
As things progress, hints of melody and musical warmth emerge, intensity and delicacy appear intermittently. Hey Now! is a fine example of something intended to contrast with the opener, a melodic and intentional, cleverly structured track. Through You afterwards does the same again and completely redirects things. Emotion and a sort of haunting, mellow aura comes through – feeling much more The Weeknd-like than anything purely hip hop inspired. You appreciate this touch of intimate honesty, and again you feel a little more connected in light of it. There’s something heartbreaking about this one that helps make it a definite highlight.
Vibrations & Vodka, Vol. 1 gets better as it moves along – there’s actually a whole lot more to it than intoxication; the first of those title words is key, and a huge part of what gives this project such a strong edge and a sense of depth and identity.
Lifestyle is another stand out, beautiful music and thoughtful lyrics bring both melody and rap into the scene, always in a calm and considerate manner. A deeply personal angle continues throughout this mid-section of the album – making for the perfect playlist to escape into when isolated contemplation seems like the only answer. Darling and His Interlude are both fine examples.
Tipsy Tales adds a dark, upbeat yet industrial moment to the album – a fairly unique one that stands out for its stylistic change. Heart Less follows and brings back that classic Jquestt sound. Then Simba Persona storms through with intensity, high energy, and weight. A chaotic backdrop supports a manic, fast-paced flow and a series of captivating lyrical scenes. The story-telling is immense here.
Towards the end of the album, Lost Bondage strips things down to the bare essentials – a near acoustic, emotional performance calms you right down. We’ll Be Just Fine takes this even further and leads with the uplifting, hopeful sound of an acoustic guitar – plus a gathering of similarly optimistic lyrics.
Bringing the album to a close is the absolute highlight that is Until Next Time. A stunning song, conceptually loaded, meaningful, with good intentions and a captivating set-up. Spoken word segments that seek to inspire are balanced elsewhere with soothing melodies and equally motivational ideas that leave you feeling secure and capable within yourself. The music stops and starts in a similar way, moving from quiet to intense, still to manic, always within the realms of this subtly energizing arena. A total stand-out from the project, a personal favourite, and a brilliant way to finish. It makes you keen to head back and re-listen to the entire collection.
Jquestt has made sure to craft this release with care, with skill, and with passion. There’s plenty to love about it, and the fact that this is merely Volume 1 makes it all the more exciting.