Blair B, who has the day job of fronting Absinthe Junk, has released a quieter alternative to her regular gig as Luxury Eviction. Master of None, although quite modern sounding, was tracked on some vintage Abbey Road and Capitol Records gear. The result is a seven-song collection of extremely vulnerable music.
Master of None can best be described as late-night music. So, if for instance you need a party started, this one won’t do the job. The instrumentation is mostly keyboards, many times acoustic and not at all guitar rock & roll. There are places, in fact, where it verges on pseudo-classical music.
Not only does it make for late-night music, it sounds like it was created at night. It is almost as though Blair B was warned to be quiet in the studio, lest she wake the neighborhood. The album’s title track begins with acoustic piano, before electronic piano enters the mix. This brief intro is soon replaced by a driving groove. The track’s minor key melody recalls Kate Bush in its best moments. Blair B has a pretty voice, although she doesn’t always enunciate her words clearly, so it can be difficult at times to catch on to what she’s singing about with these songs.
“Dragonflies in Hurricanes” begins with hushed electric piano, but also incorporates wind machine sound effects. This sound inclusion sonically references Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend.” On the track, Blair B can also be heard harmonizing with herself. Although it’s a quiet work, “Dragonflies in Hurricanes” nevertheless has a bit of an anthemic quality to it. The wind machine effect returns toward the end of the track, as well.
“Altered Cinder” is one of the release’s more groove-driven tracks. It begins, not with standard keyboard, but with a burbling, slightly funky groove atop a percussion part. It’s still quiet, but compared to the rest of this album, it’s fairly loud.
The song that most closely resembles classical music is “On Your Tongue,” with its keyboard backing and string quartet sounds. It’s also Blair B at her saddest. She sounds truly forlorn while singing it. She also sounds like she’s becoming angrier as the song goes on. She never fully lets out all her anger, but it’s easy to hear that emotion buried just beneath the surface.
Blair B goes for full-on downwave with “Catching Fire,” where she sings over echo-y electric piano. The mix also includes the sound of Blair B harmonizing with herself. “Could Be Worse” is one of the album’s more natural sounding songs. It’s one where Blair B sings over piano and drums, with an arrangement that wouldn’t have sounded all that unusual within the Aretha Franklin repertoire. But, of course, Blair B never goes all gospel vocally, the way Franklin once did. Nevertheless, it finds Blair singing her loudest toward track’s end. This gives the song a touch of an Evanescence feel at times.
The project closes especially quietly with the piano-backed “Soulstar.” Like much of the rest of the album, it finds Blair B singing hushed introspective lyrics. It also leaves the listener with the final, lasting impression this is a highly personal album. Think of this as an especially intimate conversation, from Luxury Eviction to you.