Results may vary, but you know that whatever Damon Albarn associates himself with will never be dull. In the words of The Mighty Boosh’s Howard Moon, when Damon sees a boundary, he eats a boundary. So when it was announced that Blur’s musical polymath would produce and guest on Dutch newcomer The Child Of Lov’s debut, the coupling seemed perfect.
A hoarder of sounds – from Prince-y funk to old-school soul, gritty electronics to classical music – Cole Williams occupies the same sonic terrain as his mentor. Albarn has clearly sprinkled magic dust over proceedings, but the real link between the two runs deeper: not since Damon put Gorillaz on hiatus has a middle-class westerner used so many genres to produce one vision.
Whether on the stabbing funk of ‘Heal’, with Williams falsetto-ing over grimy synths and layered backing vocals, or ‘Living The Circle’, on which the Amsterdam man almost turns rapper, laying down missives over bubbling basslines, ‘The Child…’ operates in its own world. Williams’ primary influences have been talked about a lot – Prince, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder. But by absorbing these and working them into his own cultural viewpoint, the singer has wound up with something closer to OutKast or, indeed, Gorillaz.
‘Warrior’ is all neo-soul vocals and bedroom eyes, while ‘Owl’ (featuring DOOM) opens on tense, tautly plucked guitars like the start of a dangerous tango. Albarn collaboration ‘One Day’ is like The Good, The Bad & The Queen thrown under crackling, low-slung beats, while ‘Fly’ underpins a giant soul sermon with baroque electro-accordions. The Child Of Lov may have started off as a shadowy enigma, but now is when Cole Williams lays his cards on the table. Turns out he was hiding a royal flush. Lisa Wright 9