Following the critical acclaim for CARE FOR ME, Saba returns with his 3rd studio album, Few Good Things. Like much of his past work, this album speaks to his upbringing on the West Side of Chicago, but with special focus on fond memories of his “Granny’s house.” Granny’s house becomes the setting for where these memories derive, while also being the background of his album cover and his accompanying short film also named Few Good Things. Directed by C.T. Robert, he explains that as a storyteller he treasures the stories that attempt to identify “what makes us who we are’’. Saba himself explained further that the concept for Few Good Things came from searching for exterior fulfillment and finding huge realizations of self. He explains the word ‘few’ may mean small or not many, but is never quite lonely. As he so beautifully explains, “Few good things is to grow comfortable with the empty, and despite that, finding your fullness.”
The film is just that, focusing on the simple things that seem insignificant or ‘just the way it is’, and finding deeper meaning as you grow. Saba speaks to how growing can make you lose sight of these things. Growth can make you forget every simple thing you once knew. Likewise, growth is how you answer those questions that “attempt to identify yourself.” To help you remember yourself. To give meaning to the experiences that may have even taken you away from the simple things in your life. Saba, and the creative team behind Few Good Things, beautifully encapsulate the search for interior search for peace and the cyclical nature of growth. You always find family again. You always find home again. You will always find yourself again.
While the film is a beautiful visual complement to the concept, the album itself is the rapper’s sonic culmination of self and home. Saba is no stranger to telling “the tale of two Chicagos” in his music. He grew up on the West Side of Chicago, where he would begin playing piano at the young age of 7. Chicago was the place he began his music career; in instrumentation, in production, and in rapping. In previous work, such as CARE FOR ME and Bucket List Project, he speaks to love, loss, Chicago, and spirituality. Few Good Things is his most mature body of work, with tales of growing up, of getting by, and of growing apart. His family is heard throughout the album, and short film, recalling memories of “Granny’s house”. A house that becomes more than a house, it becomes the glue. A point of reference when you may wander away from home. Hands held around the dinner table, fire hydrants showering the smiles of giddy children, cries from the mourning mouths of distant relatives; visions of home grow more colorful and clear with each track on the album. Saba paints a picture in the listeners ears as he takes on a softer, melodic, sound this album.
The soft syncopation of his voice pairs well with the rich melodies of Mereba’s and Eryn Allen Kane’s voices. The various elements on the album, whether that be the instrumentation, a G Herbo feature, or a spoken interlude, make the images clearer and the stories more dynamic. The guitar in “Fearmonger” takes on a narrative voice towards the end of the song, as if singing with the choir. The “do-do do-do” in “a Simpler Time” slows the pace, makes you feel like you’re walking down the street Saba describes. “2012” is an especially beautiful track, the penultimate denouement of the album where he speaks most explicitly to the theme of home, explaining he’s “had everything he’s ever needed.” Where his Granny’s basement became the genesis for his music career. Where the memories of the past become cherished puzzle pieces to your future.
Overall, the album was a beautiful body that not only told the tales of Saba, his family, and his Chicago, but displayed Saba’s growth as a musician and storyteller.
originally published for Bridge Magazine
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