Chris McClenney squeeze out Jazz and R&B on "Portrait In Two"

Written by Waylon O'Day

MLM Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars

The soul and exciting multi-instrumentalist from Maryland, Chris McClenney, who has released a White Label through Soulection, as well as producing for D.R.A.M, recently released his debut EP, Portrait in Two. The 11-track project is lush with beautiful R&B, jazz, and funk landscapes, which are well complemented by the diverse and emotive vocal performances from McClenney.

Opening track “Headlines” is this incredibly catchy minimalist electronic R&B production, with lyrics that talk about how people get way too caught up in the lives of other people when they should focus on their own. The following track “Otherside,” is a glamorous jazzy landscape, with a boom-bap backbeat about McClenney and his struggles with depression. “What You Mean to Me” has this woozy, bumping, psych-R&B production that features McClenney’s strongest vocal performance on the EP. 

STANDOUT TRACKS

“Run” almost comes off as an early Drake deep-cut, but soon thereafter McClenney delivers that is steeped in satiny sensuality. “Glide” is a super funky, chill-wave inspired track that leads into the absolutely gorgeous “Pearl,” which features my favorite production on the project. “Gravity” is a touching minimalist jazz production, where McClenney gives the listeners his most intimate vocal performance singing, “You’re love is my gravity, when I’m lost, you pull me back down,” during my favorite song from the project.

"Despite this being a debut EP, McClenney establishes his position in the jazz-funk-R&B-fusion genre by showing his uncanny ability to make every song fit the same mood, despite borrowing ideas from separate creative spaces, using all of them to the fullest of his abilities." 

This fusion of jazz, funk, and R&B has become fairly commonplace today, almost every new release that falls under this broad umbrella of genres brings something fresh and new to the front; Portrait in Two is no different. Despite this being a debut EP, McClenney establishes his position in the jazz-funk-R&B-fusion genre by showing his uncanny ability to make every song fit the same mood, despite borrowing ideas from separate creative spaces, using all of them to the fullest of his abilities. That is why I give this album a 4.4, a truly refreshing project from an incredibly talented artist.

Listen to his project below.