Esperanza Spalding, for better or worst, will always be known to many as the jazz bassist who beat out Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence + The Machine and Mumford & Sons for the Best New Artist award at the 2011 Grammys.
Now the massively talented artist is back with a new album, Emily's D+Evolution, set for a March 4 release, and her first single, "Good Lava," has a music video that communicates all the ambitious psychedelic jazz rock and spiritual philosophy she's trying to convey on the concept album.
She explained the idea of the album to NPR in an interview, where she says you can read the album title as devolution or D+ evolution, i.e. barely getting by with a passing grade.
"Whether you want to see it as devolution and evolution, and the place where they co-exist without one diminishing the other, or could look at it like barely having the tools that you need, but having to move forward, and having to keep moving," Spalding said. "What do you do when you don't really have all the tools that you need, but you have to survive? And you need to grow and expand?"
She uses the character of Emily to come outside of herself and explore new themes, such as the changing power of lava, as she explains in an interview for Lenny Letters.
"It definitely did feel like if I'm the mountain and Emily's the lava," she said. "She was trying to tell me sometimes lava is necessary and good and it needs to erupt and it needs to do what it does. Sometimes it might burn something away, or the next year it might be nourishment for seeds. Or it might become the island of Hawaii or Iceland."
Where previous Spalding albums have stuck to a modern jazz style that utilizes the incredible power of her instrumental voice contrasting against the boom of her upright bass, "Good Lava" is smooth math rock that combines the immensely complicated rhythms of jazz and a grooving beat.
Watch the music video below.