Photo: Alan Lear
Steve Lacy’s music is unassuming. It does not presume you know its decades-long tradition of funk, soul, and R&B, nor does it turn its nose up at you for not immediately falling in step with its nostalgic groove. Rather, the Compton native’s music is akin to coming home to your parents’ records playing in the living room on a sublime summer day–familiar, novel, and inviting.
Lacy’s long-awaited debut album, Apollo XXI, feels like his most paramount work to date, which is certainly saying something given his past outings and collaborations. From receiving a Grammy nomination while still in high school thanks to his role as The Internet’s guitarist, bassist, and producer, to being one of only two feature on Vampire Weekend’s lauded return, it would be no understatement to say that Lacy has the Midas touch. And yet, there is something remarkably special about Apollo XXI and its expansive groove that runs the gamut from Prince, Stevie Wonder, to most of all, Lacy himself.
In spite of being only twelve tracks, Apollo XXI feels like a vast universe unto itself. Swaying between a range of inspirations and moods over its 43-minute run, the Compton native sets himself apart as more than just another a funk and R&B revivalist. He exists as the genre’s purveyor and savant. And Apollo XXI arrives as more than just a phenomenal collection of nostalgic-laden musing, it is an illustration of Lacy’s gift for introspection and insight.
“Like Me,” the longest track on the album, is a poignant bout of self-reflection posited through a lens of outward questioning, detailing Lacy’s worries and anxieties of coming out as bisexual over momentous production that never ceases to evolve. It is a singular remarkable moment in an album brimming with the like. For no matter where you find yourself on Apollo XXI, Lacy and his ineffable brand of warmth will surely strike a chord no matter when or where you find yourself in your life.
Listen to Apollo XXI below: