One of the best and worst things about writing for a music site is the constant stream of music one is sent be it through press releases, emails, tweets, or carrier pigeon (actually, this last one has never happened, but if you send us something through carrier pigeon I will personally write about you/your band). I say it’s the best and worst because the constant influx of musical content (some can’t even be qualified as music) is sometimes saturating, and most of the time not all that noteworthy. So when John Gudenzi of The Miracals and The Sayitaints (a connection we pointed out in our newsletter, which you should sign up for) sent me an email asking me to check out his friend Tripp Kramer, I was a bit hesitant.
I’m very thankful I gave it the time of day though, because Tripp Kramer (real name Peter Kramer III) actually has some interesting things going on. Stevie Wonder cover aside, which is mostly an exercise in self-indulgence that I’m not too keen on, the other songs to his name actually fill a nice little musical gap between R&B and post-dubstep, or, more specifically the likes of Miguel and James Blake (adding a dash of jazz). By that I mean that it’s less R&B than the former and more R&B than the latter, which is interesting if you think about it.
What’s also interesting is the (young) man’s musical history: after starting to play piano at the age of three (!), he got his first steady paycheck for singing at eight (!!) and got his classical training that way. From there he picked up a guitar and started playing jazz in
New York Baltimore, which led him to experiment with unconventional chord progressions. His experimentation continued in his approach to recording, by going in to record before he had a fully fleshed song.
This becomes immediately apparent in songs such as “Ate My Soul”, the second track from his Adsum EP. The guitar loop has a very drone-like quality, and a definitely jazz-influenced bass does a great job of carrying the groove. As a whole, the instrumentation comes off like a smaller-budget, less synthetic Miguel, and the multiple vocal lines, as well as the fact that Kramer has a deep, soulful voice play like Blake sans the vocoder. “Little Hands” employs a similar trick, though for me, it leans much closer to the Blake this time around, with a bright, electric guitar twinkle in the beginning and little click-clack sounds here and there. The guitar solo towards the end is a nice touch too.
Though I compare him to artists that are currently having their moment, it’s more likely that Kramer prefers to be compared to some of his more classic influences, like Prince or D’Angelo. I’d say the latter is more on point, since the schmaltz of the former is nowhere to be seen. The “old jazz guitarists [he] grew up loving” also come through in the overall feel of the music, though particularly the bass.
So if you like your R&B experimental almost to the point where it stops being R&B, look (listen) no further than Tripp Kramer. You can do so by checking out a few tracks below, but head to his Bandcamp for more. It’s available for whatever price you like, but try to be nice.