Kevin Abstract’s ARIZONA BABY was released in April 2019 the 11-song album takes on a reflective tone, dealing with issues such as the struggles of fame and success. It deserves to be top ten for many different reasons, however the most powerful part of the album was the attention it brought to the tribulations of growing up black and gay in southern USA. It had great impact as the discussion of black LGBT+ people are rarely discussing in the media and Abstract brings the conversation forward for everyone to listen. The focus of ARIZONA BABY is overcoming struggles or finding hope that one day things will get better. This is most expressed in ‘Georgia’, a song which alludes to Ray Charles song ‘Georgia on My Mind’, a song personifying peace and stability. The song dives into Abstract’s struggles with acceptance growing up gay in Texas. The song itself holds an important message to LGBTQ+ fans that things can get better in time, just as they did for Abstract.
Abstract reveals a new vulnerability in ARIZONA BABY as the record can be argued to be discussing a fall of a relationship, specifically evident in ‘Mississippi’; this bold tenderness has become something Kevin Abstract has come to master. This same vulnerability is portrayed in ‘Use Me’ as the intense propulsive flow of the first verse shows Abstract’s urgency for things to improve as he sings “Everything is gon’ be okay”. Abstract’s eagerness to speak so openly about his mental health issues takes away the taboo from the subject.
The important message behind ARIZONA BABY is not the only reason as to why this album deserves to be top ten but also because of its bold and experimental tone. The unique sound is most demonstrated in ‘Joyride’ through the exploration of soft bright guitars mixed with a Latin-inspired brass section. Abstract’s wild creativity is exemplified throughout this record, each track takes us to a different place. For example, ‘Peach’ is centred around smooth electric guitars and a psychedelic backdrop while Big Wheels has a more aggressive hip-hop and electronic sound. These are two completely different songs but show the different direction Abstract takes us on his musical journey.
Kevin Abstract’s ARIZONA BABY is available via Sony Music Entertainment.