JON BATISTE || We Are
Batiste is the leader of Stephen Colbert's late-night talk-show band, Stay Human. He is also a New Orleans native steeped in that city's rich and vast music heritage, and “We Are” rattles and hums with the sounds of his hometown (horns abound).
For example: the title track, which features the horn-heavy marching band from his high school and a children's gospel choir and marches determinedly to an irresistible chant: “We are the chosen ones / We are the golden ones” – a declaration that feels at once jubilant and defiant.
He pulls its grooves from other sources, such as hip-hop, '70s R&B and '50s and '60s soul. From one track to the next, the music evokes sounds of the mighty and influential – Stevie Wonder, Booker T., Curtis Mayfield, Shuggy Otis, Prince.
Song titles broadcast lyric themes: “Freedom,” “Tell The Truth,” “Show Me the Way,” “Boy Hood.” Those messages can get overshadowed amid the array of groove-heavy music, so pay attention. Musically “We Are” declares who we are and have been; lyrically it declares who we should aim to be.