Album Review of ‘Force Majeure’ by Brandee Younger and Dezron Douglas

January 14, 2021 | By

Dezron Douglas and Brandee Younger - Force Majeure - CD – Rough Trade


Douglass and Younger come through with a record as spiritual as it is sparse.

Amidst the wave of home-recorded albums this year, comes a uniquely intimate affair which sees bassist Dezron Douglas and harpist Brandee Younger string together highlights from a series of livestreams to create their new collaborative record entitled Force Majeure. The title makes very clear reference to the unforeseeable circumstances of the COVID Pandemic and lends itself to the ethos of the record. Many tunes on the record take the form of homages to and covers of Douglass and Younger’s favorite artists, alluding to what may have been their beacons of solace during these troubled times.

Force Majeure runs just shy of an hour and sees the duo play renditions of artists as disparate as John Coltrane, Kate Bush and The Jackson 5. Douglas and Younger, hailing from Hartford CT and Hempstead NY respectively, convened at their Harlem apartment between March and June to record a series of livestream brunch sessions on a single microphone in their living room. The sessions consisted primarily of only Douglas playing double bass and Younger on the harp, with occasional intermittent banter between the two. The record keeps an undeniable energy while simultaneously managing to remain serene throughout. If ever there were to be a preferable pair of downstairs neighbors practicing their instruments, this would be it.

Of course the recording quality is nowhere near professional, leaving a fair amount of white noise and reverberation in the mix. This does end up being to the record’s benefit though. Force Majeure’s holistically impromptu nature makes the album almost feel like a field recording of monastic musicians playing for their peers in the courtyard of a hidden urban temple. With the advent of a solid pair of cans or stereo speakers, the listener is sitting right there with them.

“Coffee”, the introduction to the record, features only Douglas greeting the listener and asking them how they’re holding up during quarantine. The following cut covers Alice Coltrane’s “Gospel Trane”. This is certainly an interesting choice since Coltrane substitutes her harp for a piano in the original recording, necessitating Younger to translate it to play on her harp. Another spiritual rendition sees the duo playing Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan”. Douglass clearly decides to steer the performance towards this song at the end of the previous track; a decision no doubt informed by his history as a sideman for Sanders himself.

Aside from the actual music on the record, the vocal interjections made by the musicians add quite a lot to the complete package. Key tracks in the record find Douglass and Younger crack jokes or provide transitions between tunes to really give the record a true “live” feeling. A cover of John Coltrane’s “Wise One”, even begins with a dedication to the memory of Ahmaud Arbery who was fatally shot while jogging in late February of 2020.

For a year that many hoped would look a lot less like last year, 2021 shows no sign of letting up. A pandemic is still raging throughout the globe and civil unrest is still abundant; sorry for the downer, though the light at the end of the tunnel may very well be closer than we think. Despite what may be occurring in the world at large, everyone needs a reprieve every once in a while. If your reprieve preferably comes in the form of a warm and welcoming piece of tranquil music, Dezron Douglass & Brandee Younger’s Force Majeure may very well be able foot the bill. Check it out wherever you stream music, or stay tuned to WXCI next week to catch it on our Heavy Rotation!


Check the album out on Bandcamp, Spotify or Apple Music!


-DJ Straight Edge


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Category: Reviews