Chicago artist continues to push sonic boundaries on latest LP
Music needs an update, and many are pushing the boundaries to do it. Chicago musician Boltah is a principal specimen who is avidly exploring this musical frontier. Earlier this summer, he gave an insightful look into his newly-released Time Flies album by sharing several early tracks for the enjoyment of the masses. Impose covered it with praise here. Now, he is back with more gold for listeners to deliciously devour.
From the memorable tracks already discussed in Impose’s past review, there are now three additional chunks for listening pleasure. Of course, Boltah not only explores elements of song structure, but also the stories within. He starts off sharing wisdom into the first of the new gems, “Those Songs.”
“There once was a country singer who lost his son to a drug overdose,” Boltah explains of the track. “Motivated by this immeasurable loss, he sold all his belongings to follow then-candidate Donald Trump on the campaign trail and sang songs in support of the GOP nominee. The singer believed Trump’s seemingly heartfelt promise to combat opioid addiction in the GOP’s ‘American Health Care Act’. After Trump was elected and the health bill was drafted, the man discovered that drug addiction would not be included in this plan. As a result, he turned on Trump and declared, ‘I don’t sing Trump songs anymore’. This story had a profound effect on me because I feel a lot of people need to see how Trump’s and many other conservative policies are bad for their own constituents and, perhaps most importantly, that this tragedy could happen to anyone.” That’s one way to stick it to the orange man.
The next track, “Tombs of the Treasury”, offers a more obscure yet fascinating trip through history via the Middle East. “The Al-Khazneh temple (also named The Treasury) is one of many buildings carved into sandstone cliffs in the city of Petra, Jordan. This is a city that had been lost, forgotten, buried by the desert sands,” says Boltah. “When explorers discovered this part of the lost city, they thought the largest building was a treasury because of a prominent structure atop that resembled an oversized crown or chest. There are bullet holes because some travelers thought it was loaded with riches. When really, this building is just a huge tomb and I think this effectively illustrates how misconceptions form and are passed down through generations.”
For many, pipe dreams often seem out of reach. However, with the song “Unknown Hello”, Boltah holds onto that spirit of hope while also being wary. “My wife, Monica, sketched this closeup of a woman’s face using many colors in the process. To her it was just a doodle that took two minutes, but for some reason I couldn’t stop looking at it. The ‘colors rippling outwards’ combined with her expression of ‘closed eyes and serene smile’ made me envision a goddess of sorts that would bring healing to the world at large… Would we collectively be ready for this unknown positive force that would look so different than what we are used to seeing? I think this is also a reaction to the current climate and how women and people of color are rising in prominence and numbers. We all experience the ‘unknown hello’ in the day to day activities we face as well as the larger question of what is unknown. So much of the album is a nostalgic or reflective look at the past. This one is about the future and it’s unknown events and forces that are soon to greet us.”
Keep a sharp eye out for more to come from this musician as the future remains bright thanks to his eclectic sounds. And give the entire album, Time Flies, a listen below.