ALBUM: River Nelson – ‘Power, Resilience and Joy’


American Hip-Hop artist River Nelson releases his fourth record ‘Power, Resilience and Joy’. A refreshing combination of old-school hip-hop beats with a  modern intensity and sensibility, it wonderfully crafts its deep-seeded narrative structure.

From the name alone, it is clear to see that Power, Resilience and Joy is a record that aims to build an overall sense of narrative around these three basic human traits and needs. This that tackled within albums opening track, the aptly named, ‘Power, Resistance and Joy’. A short, sharp opener it places the albums old-school sensibilities at the forefront, whilst the accompanying female vocal delivery serves to add a depth of soul to the record. Following this is track, ‘Broken Sky’ which offers the listener a glimpse of Nelson’s vocal and flow capabilities whilst carrying a lyrical theme of alienation, the combination of the two creating a wonderful sense of juxtaposition

As the record continues, track ‘Hind Sight’ showcases Nelson’s ability to combine both the sounds of old-school West Coast hip-hop and modern musical trends. It features a deeply rooted lyrical theme of viewing youth through nostalgia tinted glasses. It tackles perhaps the most prevalent of all the themes included within the albums name-sake. That being the theme of joy. Track ‘Law of Averages’ offers a more ominous and darker tone, this being in no small part to the use of synth within the tracks beat. Fuelled by the darker sound, the vocal range takes somewhat of a more aggressive and angry tone.

The album soon reaches something of a high point, this being the track ‘Tammy and Marcus’. It features a dreamier sound than the rest of the album, which only serves to illustrate the hindsight fuelled lyrical tones. It is perhaps the best illustration of the lyrical capabilities of Nelson, and his almost effortless ability to craft a deep narrative.

Closing the main portion of the record is track, ‘Japanese Proverb’. With this the track reaches its pinnacle within the established old-school sound, the listener could be forgiven for believing this to be the product of the West Coast in the 1980’s. The album draws to a close with PRJ, an abbreviation of the album’s title. A follow on from the album’s opener, it brings the records sound full circle, as the record closes with the same intense soul as it opened with.

‘Power, Resistance and Joy’ is a true testament to the effective usage of story-telling as well as the malleability of the old-school hip-hop sound. Always lyrically rooted within brutal honesty, it consistently calls into question, as well as champions, the importance of the records three main cruxes, Power, Resistance and Joy’.