Dialogue, the new album by Aaron Abernathy, sees the artist presenting his side of the story in nine interwoven tracks. The album marks a distinctly different conceptual approach, where the artist lays flat his vulnerabilities as an American black man in 2017, discussing hot-button issues of economics, segregation, and racial politics.
Dialogue was composed, produced, and arranged by Abernathy, and creates a modern take of the classic soul sounds of the 1970s, with a nod to the socially conscious themes found on albums such as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Sly & The Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin On, or Curtis Mayfield’s eponymous debut album. Nine songs are sequenced and mixed to flow together seamlessly, and Abernathy’s skills as a producer bring a consistency despite varied tempos and moods.
That same variation can be found in the topical lyricism: “Restrictions” focuses on economic barriers that stifle the American dream in inner cities; “Now A Days” touches on police brutality and gentrification; “Am I Good Enough to Love?” challenges the emasculation of the working class male; “Generation” cites the struggle for equal rights for the LGBT community and Native Americans; and “Forecast” tells of how the artist’s spirituality colors his outlook on life.
Abernathy exclusively handles lead vocals throughout the album, but to add some extra context to the subject matter, he’s spliced in soundbite quotes from black cultural leaders dating from recent times back to the early 1960s during the civil rights movement. One of the recordings features his great uncle Ralph David Abernathy--the close friend and associate of Martin Luther King, Jr.--showing that the artist is interested not only in carrying forward the legacy of his musical heroes, but also the cultural legacy of his own family.
Dialogue reveals the complex contradictions of a proud artist. A man proud of his upbringing and heritage despite the adversities he faces being black in America. A man proud of his country while still feeling oppressed by it. A man proud of the faith that brings him endless optimism, allowing him to endure the struggle of finding his place in a society where every path moves uphill. An artist proud to reflect the times by injecting social commentary into soul music in the 21st Century, to carry the torch previously held by his greatest influences.