It’s safe to say that you will not hear another album that sounds like this. Eligh (of the Living Legends) and Jo Wilkinson, a mother and son duo, have released a one-of-a-kind project that blends two worlds of music. With a combination of styles that carry the freedom to intermingle and disperse when needed, this collaboration stands out.
Eligh‘s raps are keenly expressed with his usual rapid-fire flow. His elaborate, often poetic stanzas are not lost in this mix as the emcee is as sharp as ever, channeling his intricate rhymes to fit with a refreshingly positive twist on life. “Take my first step off the ledge/Then use my flow to alternate/ My wingspan flaps inside my head to take my fans through altered states/Take you to that place of peace/Where you won’t be scared to face that beast,” he raps on “By and By.” When he isn’t rhyming, he’s manning the boards and lending the mic to capable allies. Highlights of the album include “Safe,” a song which features Slug [click to read] (of Atmosphere) and Pigeon John [click to read] alongside Wilkinson, with moving results and “By and By,” a song which features longtime collaborator The Grouch [click to read].
The production is a mellow combination of folk rhythms and rap. The diverse mix can be productive, as clearly shown on “By and By,” where Paul Dateh‘s expertise with the violin is cleverly utilized. Another example of this would be “Honor Me,” a track that mixes somber tones and a hopeful guitar at once, allowing Pigeon John and Wilkinson to join in a melodious hymn to accompany Eligh‘s thought-provoking confessions. Jiro Yamaguchi‘s percussion is a welcome addition from the Ozomatli member on “Sara.” By and large, the fusion is, for the most part, a success.
When the folk fully kicks in, such as on “The Prayer” and “Poet Man,” Wilkinson is able to showcase her talent freely. While this may deter some rap fans, it’s a break from the norm and a rejection of formulaic Rap releases that actually works. Although the music may be intriguing and enjoyable, it breaks up some of the cohesion of the album, at times. With an album that is already cut short with only a few songs to begin with, it’s hard to disregard such flaws.
A creative surge from a mother-son duo is still hard to knock when it’s done well. Despite some breaks in cohesion and an extremely short playlist, the album delivers compelling work in what feels like a visit to a talented family’s home during jam sessions. With On Sacred Ground: Mother & Son, Jo Wilkinson and Eligh provide an inventive venture that does what they have done separately for so long: open minds and stimulate thought through music. Mission accomplished.