“Here,” the spanking new single from Calvin Brown and Sam Reed, is a bright blast of resilience in a dark and hopeful time. Released on the now official state holiday of Juneteenth, it is both fresh and classic, of the moment and reaching for something more. “We all have different ways to fight,” Brown says. “Music is one of mine."
The timeliness is no accident, the basic rhythm track was laid down on June 5, the eight day of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a point when raw responses on the streets were shifting toward something like generational resolve.
Recorded in Devonne Harris’ local Jellowstone Records, the song has the warm analog grit of classic '60s-'70s soul recordings. “[Devonne’s] got that distinctive sound,” Brown says. “Dirty in a good way.”
The spacious mix comes from West Coast composer/engineer Chris Soper, whose resume includes work with Kanye, Janet Jackson and the Roots. Interested in amplifying Black voices, he did the mix at a fraction of the usual fee. Obviously a huge plus, given that paying gigs are effectively non-existent during the pandemic. The song structure is intricate, with layered voices and jazz-tinged chording.
“I thought of it as my version of a club dance. One with a lot of chords in every measure,” Brown says.
Sam Reed shares lead vocals and as lead singer for literal metal band NoBS! Brass has no trouble cutting through. “This song needed that female power and presence,” Brown says. “Whenever she opens her mouth, that’s it”
The song is about survival and inspiration, the need to take stock in yourself, forgo pessimism, and imagine a different future.
“I want it to be visceral and celebratory,” Brown says. “It’s about Black life and Black joy. Because what are we fighting for if not joy?”