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Album Review: Girl Ray - 'Prestige'

prestige noun

pres·tige pre-‘stēzh -‘stēj

1 :standing or estimation in the eyes of people: weight or credit in general opinion

2 :commanding position in people’s minds


Girl Ray’s Prestige shows growth, and I will delve into three overarching thoughts it brought to mind.

One: Returning to Disco’s roots.

The disco era was led by bands like the Bee Gees, Kool & the Gang, KC & the Sunshine Band, Chic, and of course, ABBA, as well as singers such as Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. The style had such an influence that rock bands added disco and anti-disco songs to their music catalogs: Rolling Stones had “Miss You;” The Grateful Dead created “Shakedown Street,” and a favorite for sporting events, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. However, it lost steam after a Major League Baseball sponsored Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979. Still, some ‘80s artists, including Prince, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper, found success in the ostracized genre.

After the eighties, disco evolved into other forms: house, techno, and rave. With some mainstream success, the genre’s descendants began making their way into long-weekend music festivals. Enter daytime disco, a more upbeat and energetic sound that the West Coast ran with. To complete the circle of life, Daft Punk, Kylie Minogue, and Dua Lipa highlighted a significant rebirth of the traditional disco sound.

Girl Ray’s Prestige is a thoughtful nod to the ‘70s and classic disco artists like ABBA. They take it back to the beginning in sound and purpose. Prestige celebrates individuality, glamour, and inclusivity in a safe and magical place.

Two: “No Skips”

My wife and I recently attended the Philadelphia Beyonce concert. The Linc was packed, and the performer put on a great show. Leaving, we bought my wife a tour shirt. On the back, it says, “No Skips.” Well, I’m an idiot and sometimes do not think before speaking, especially when alone with my wife, so I asked, “What does ‘No Skips’ mean?”

“You start the album and listen to it all the way through,” she instructed me.

I didn’t need to say anything. The look on my face assured her I knew I’m not always the smartest man.

Prestige does not need a t-shirt saying “No Skips.” The strategic layout of the Girl Ray’s album and transitions make listening from “Intro” to “Give Me Your Love” as natural as watching Mamma Mia! from start to finish.

Three: A Connecting Thread

Gaining exposure by playing “You Enjoy Myself” with Phish in Austin on October 14, 1995, and playing the outdoor summer festival circuit, Medeski, Martin, & Wood introduced Jamband fans and me to jazz. Learning to listen to the form led me to Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.

Drawn to early ‘70s Davis, I love Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, and On the Corner. These albums taught me the strength of having a thread of sound or rhythm sown through a piece or collection to keep it together. I began hearing it at great jam band shows where they used rhythm as a rope tie down to keep the music from spinning out of control and flying to outer space.

Prestige is pop disco and does not have jazz’s exploration and digressions, but it has a bass line that ties together the entire album. Obvious and overt at the beginning of the album, the rhythm is hidden throughout and presents the album as a singular night or thought.

A Prestige Listen Through

“Intro” drives me to the venue and drops me off. My heart is racing, but “True Love” gets right to the music. In “Up,” I hear the sound teased at the end of “Intro” and played throughout “True Love.” However, Girl Ray pushes and adds to it. “Everybody’s Saying That” sounds independent, but is it? No. The same is true with “Love Is Enough.” A stand-alone song with the Prestige DNA. The stretch from “True Love” t

o “Tell Me” is impressive. Girl Ray has absolute control of the environment.

“Wanna Dance” is when I realize I am sitting at home at my desk, and “Space Song” is when I look around to help ground myself. I’m still mentally dancing. Absorbing Girl Ray’s intention, I feel the serotonin in my body and the recircuiting of my brain. I know I will go away from this experience a better person.

“Give Me Your Love” is the seven-minute and forty-three-second encore I need to feel complete.

Final Thought: This review was a lot of explaining my thoughts, but I love this album. It is in my top three for 2023. I hope they get the attention they deserve and hope they come to Philly soon.

Favorite Songs: “Everybody’s Saying That,” “Love Is Enough,” and “Tell Me”

Rating - 5/

5 (Yes, 5 out of 5. This is a masterpiece.)

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