Hailing from the pressure cooker of North County — Ferguson — Bryant Stewart distills his pain and sorrows into 13 passionate tracks that comprise his latest work entitledeightshadesofgrAy. He presents a compelling story of a young black man weaving his way through dark streets of violence, intolerance, and trouble, emerging as a lonesome hero chasing the money game as a means of finding peace. With his lively scat rapping and wispy vocals, Stewart demonstrates his diverse skills of song creation, drawing from tried-and-true R&B formulas and flipping them into a fresh mesh of genres.

The reinvention of the blues musical heritage from Saint Louis is thrilling and impactful, made more poignant by the region’s recent turmoil that Bryant Stewart knows all too well. However, the promise of the album reverberates stronger than its execution, where a stellar start of energy and emotions dwindles into dreariness that suffocates Bryant‘s talents as a songwriter. This is most evident in the seven-minute outro that begins with a strong anecdotal before becoming self-absorbed and tiring,  overstaying its welcome like a drunk outside a bar during an uninvited conversation. And to be nit-picky, the interludes are not such, as by definition an interlude is a breath in a tape; a purposeful pause to invite impression or to change direction, not 20 seconds of sound before another track slogs on. To be frank, this album needed several.

Despite its flaws, Bryant Stewart delivers a memorable tape brimming with Saint Louis pride. From production to singing to rapping, eightshadesofgrAy checks all the boxes of being well-crafted, thoughtful, and original. Much like the region as a whole, there is good reason to be hopeful about Bryant‘s future, but the lasting reaction is best summed by the title of his previous release: “Not Quite There”.

eightshadesofgrAy is available for purchase on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/eightshadesofgray/id1036694748

Follow him on twitter and Instagram @bryantstewart

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