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Album review: 'Letters' 

Gary Lamaar



Hip-hop generally uses vocal patterns that find themselves thrust upon our consciousness by its driving, underlying, and in most cases, unrelenting beat. This internal beat, and the bed of music where it resides, helps drive home the message, whatever it may be. Rochester musician Gary Lamaar deftly applies this with mellow ease on his new CD, "Letters." The beat goes on.

"Letters" is more along the lines of a spoken word album with jazzy overtones and a pronounced ultra-cool chill-effect. Lamaar still compacts his rhymes into a space made for typically longer diatribes and explorations. With the mellow mood set by the backing tracks, it's easier to pick up on Lamaar's message as various lines slip and slide to the forefront of these eight racks — missives as Lamaar describes them — creating a desired mood. To the listener this is like candy coating the message to give them what they really need, whether they know they need it or not. Hell, I needed it. Some of these missives come as a shared prayer, others seem to tag team ears with the music's cocktail of recline and cool. Ahhh.

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