The world around us is finally green, but Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas is bringing us back to tan and brown and olive with the songs of his latest album, Earthtones. And everything about the album is earth toned: from the album cover (a shot of the hands of a tan track-suited Jurvanen atop a golden-maned horse) to the songs themselves, heavy with muddy bass and the brass-toned vocals of both Jurvanen and supporting vocalist Felicity Williams. And earth tones would seem to suggest maturity: the color of leaves at the twilight of the year, the favored khaki of an older generation, the sound of a musician and songwriter who is both comfortable with his own sound and with experimenting.

The cover image was a bit of a happy accident, a somewhat odd and last-minute shot taken at the end of an unsatisfactory shoot in the desert. Nothing about the music on this album was an accident, but much of it was made in the improvised nature of a tight deadline. Jurvanen wanted desperately to work with famed LA session musicians and members of D’Angelo’s band, James Gadson and Pino Palladino. Jurvanen’s manager inquired, and the duo had three days free, right before Jurvanen and the rest of the Bahamas crew were set to leave on a European tour. Jurvanen jumped at the chance, and the foundations of what became Earthtones were laid down in that three-day period.

 Songs were written on that foundation, and recorded on tour. In that way, the album became partly about what was going on around Jurvanen. Songs like “Alone” and “Show Me, Naomi” are about touring and life away from his family. “Bad Boys Need Love Too”—a song heavily influenced by hip-hop and R&B, and yet so specifically Bahamas—was inspired by the music he was listening to. The album ultimately ruminates on some complex emotions, but against an equally rich backdrop of funky rhythms and guitar licks and layered vocals.

Jurvanen mentioned in an interview with Billboard that many of the songs on Earthtones deal with the idea of inflating a sense of self to get by. In this vein, the album plays with the bravado inherent in hip-hop and the courage of declaring true feelings. So has writing the album helped him come to terms with this? Yes, and no. It’s not something to contend with, necessarily, but something he has grown accustomed to. Juvanen said that he’s come to a place of confidence and comfortable pride with himself, his music, and his performance. Some artists might consider a name like Bahamas to be a separate persona, but there is no separation for Afie Jurvanen. He’s just himself. And there’s a natural maturity in that.

Bahamas plays the Sinclair this Thursday, May 3 at 8:00.

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