Album of the Week: Duval Timothy

Multidisciplinary artist and pianist Duval Timothy mixes up a world of influence into his new record Help, creating a stirring soul-fed soundworld that defies genrefication offering up the possibility to feel, heal, and learn.

Timothy enlists a cast of supporting characters to bring his scenes to life including co-producer Rodaidh McDonald (King Krule, The XX) and Marta Salogni (Bjork), with collaborations from Lil Silva, Vegyn, Mr. Mitch, Dave Okumo, and Twin Shadow. There’s also found sounds, snippets of YouTube self-help videos, and sampled voices including that of Pharrell Williams ruminating on the record industry’s practice of owning the master on “Slave.”

The song explores the history of the transatlantic slave trade. The idea that we live in a world that not only feels the effect of this horrific history but one that takes elements from the slave system and implements them in different ways adapted to our contemporary life.

Timothy splits his time between England (his home) and Sierra Leone (home of his relatives) and he used the latter locale to shoot the soul-stirring video for “Fall Again”:

“We discussed the concept of a loved one going away and the value of patience,” Timothy wrote. “I wanted to capture a local culture in Sierra Leone which involves people going away and returning at an unforeseen time.


Lil Silva describes the song [“Fall Again”] ‘One way or another, this record is about loving and believing in yourself to be better. To settle down your constant cycle of thoughts and be still because the universe has a plan for all of us.
It’s us that continue on the path we’re on, and it’s our decision that leads us to the feelings we feel. The message we wanted people to take away from the song is about breaking through these negatives and believing in the universe to do its work…’

Help can be heard as an indictment of our slave-owning history and an ode to the process of healing, but I prefer to allow these specifics to grow beyond their literalness lifted higher by music’s freeing movements. There are a number of instrumental tracks with Timothy’s piano leading the way touching jazz, electronica, souljazz, and R&B. Help is also a beautiful-sounding record, a lush paradise of possibility with a clear sense of delight and wonder in-the-making.

You’ll want to take in Help uninterrupted and in full where you’ll find yourself lost in the timeless flow of ideas, rhythms, and sounds rooted in our painful history but given wings to rise above it all.