George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, released an EP in 2018 called Broken Horses, which consisted of 4 different versions of the titular song: the Santo Domingo Edit, the Port Antonio Edit, and instrumental versions of each. The Santo Domingo and Port Antonio versions of Broken Horses sound fairly similar, but they differ in the way they pay subtle homage to the music of their respective islands.
The version we fell in love with in 2018 was the Santo Domingo Edit. When we heard the song, we didn’t know that Twin Shadow was born in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, but we assumed he had a relationship to the city given the song’s authentic expression and bold personality. The Santo Domingo version of Broken Horses elevates the plucking of the classical nylon-stringed guitar to the forefront of the song, delivering an irresistible flavor of bachata.
The other version, the Port Antonio Edit, is named after the city on the northeastern coast of Jamaica. This version is unique in how it puts emphasis on the strum on the downbeat, which is a signature element of reggae music. (As a side note, recently Port Antonio has become known in the music world for its residential recording studio GeeJam, where the likes of Drake, Alicia Keys, and Katy Perry have all spent time).
The differences between the Santo Domingo and Port Antonio Edits may be so subtle that you barely even notice, but there’s a reason Twin Shadow released the Broken Horses EP with both versions: he wants his music to have global citizenship. The Broken Horses EP symbolizes how the nuances between different cultures’ music should not be ignored; on the contrary, they should be celebrated. Sometimes it’s most important to recognize the uniqueness between musical traditions that share the most in common, such as the island countries of the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
And while Twin Shadow mixes and matches elements from various genres and eras, it’s his Caribbean music roots that support the heart and soul of the music on his new album Twin Shadow. On the new album, he drifts from introspective acoustic ballads (Modern Man) to 80’s disco funk (Is There Any Love?) to punk rock (Get Closer) to alternative Caribbean music (Sugarcane). Despite the eclectic assortment of musical styles, Twin Shadow maintains a breezy and relaxed mood throughout, underscored by the ubiquitous rhythms and sounds of Dominican music.
Twin Shadow is an album that’s meant to be enjoyed. Whether it’s listening with others on the weekend, playing it in the background after work, or vibing out to it in your headphones on-the-go, the album’s a refreshingly light mood-lifter. So often in the music blogosphere people forget that music is an experience meant to be enjoyed. That factor is commonly overlooked among critics and reviewers who take music reviewing as a science, and as a result see art through that lens. Remember, the percent of people who approach music from a critical standpoint is comically miniscule. Critics are not actually reflective of the population. Most of the population listens to music simply because they love how it sounds. (Yes, music critics and bloggers, it’s okay not to take everything so seriously; not everything needs to be insanely innovative or overwhelmingly dark and heavy.) All that is to say that Twin Shadow’s new album Twin Shadow is an extremely enjoyable record, and one that will be a treat to anyone not taking things too seriously. If you go back to listening to music for fun, you’ll enjoy this one. That’s not to say it’s not also a technical and progressive record– but rather we feel it’s important to point out how the second you rely on a rubric to reduce albums like this to a score, you’ve already missed the point of what the music is all about. 🍑