Jon Batiste - World Music Radio

Regular price $ 39.99

Pianist and singer Jon Batiste has always wanted to try and heal people with his music, bridging musical, cultural, and political divides. It was the modus operandi of his long-running Stay Human ensemble, who later brought their message of unity and love to a wider audience via their time as the house band on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It was also the underlying ethos at work on Batiste's Grammy-winning 2021 album We Are, a genre-crossing pop production informed by his deep jazz and New Orleans R&B roots. With 2023's World Music Radio, he again seeks to heal across boundaries, crafting a soul- and dance-infused album that feels like something Stevie Wonder might have made in the 1980s, but colored by his own distinctive blend of contemporary pop and jazz harmonies. Loosely conceptual, World Music Radio is designed to play as the broadcast of interstellar radio DJ Billy Bob Bo (voiced by Batiste), whose message of global unity bookends the album. Particularly Wonder-esque is the adult-contempo-ish "Calling Your Name," replete with a harmonica solo and fuzzy synth backgrounds. Equally evocative is the '70s roller disco vibe of "Call Now (504-305-8269)," which finds the pianist's father, Michael Batiste, laying down a funky bass line. Also lending their voices are a handful of guests, including JID, NewJeans, and Camilo, who jump on board for the pop-reggae number "Be Who You Are," and Jon Bellion and Nigerian rapper Fireboy DML, who bring an uplifting soulfulness to the Afro-beat-inflected "Drink Water." More high-profile collaborators pop up, including Lana Del Rey, who duets on the emotive album closer "Life Lesson," Lil Wayne on "Uneasy," and even saxophone icon Kenny G, who brings his smooth sound to a brief version of "Clair de Lune." Despite all of these guests and shifting stylistic moods, World Music Radio holds together nicely. The production has an organic, musically experimental vibe that feels like Batiste is really bridging his jazz and pop influences. There's also a sense that he is digging deeper emotionally after a tough few years. In 2021, his wife, writer Suleika Jaouad, battled a recurrence of leukemia that eventually led to her undergoing a bone marrow transplant. During her hospitalization, Batiste wrote her lullabies as a way of offering comfort. One of them, "Butterfly," a spare piano ballad in the Paul McCartney tradition, is included on World Music Radio and proves one of the most indelible songs on the album. There are other candid tracks, like the gospel-inflected "Wherever You Are" (which sounds like it was recorded live at church) and "White Space" (a lilting, impressionistic piano ballad where Batiste coos through a vocoder). It's in these intimate moments on World Music Radio, when Batiste sounds like he's jamming out at home or singing directly to a loved one, that you can truly feel that his desire to heal the world comes from a deeply personal place.

Indie Exclusive on Baby Blue Vinyl

1 Hello, Billy Bob 1:37
2 Raindance 3:10
     feat. Native Soul
3 Be Who You Are 3:34
     feat. J.I.D, NewJeans, Camilo
4 Worship 4:13
5 My Heart 2:26
     feat. Rita Payés
6 Drink Water 2:49
     feat. Jon Bellion & Fireboy DML
7 Calling Your Name 1:56
8 Clair De Lune 1:17
     feat. Kenny G
9 Butterfly 3:50
10 17th Ward Prelude 0:13
11 Uneasy 5:21
     feat. Lil Wayne
12 Call Now (504-305-8269) 3:19
     feat. Michael Batiste
13 Chassol 1:09
14 Boom for Real 2:47
15 Movement 18’ (Heroes) 4:35
16 Master Power 3:33
17 Running Away 5:01
     feat. Leigh-Anne Pinnock
18 Goodbye, Billy Bob 1:33
19 White Space 2:48
20 Wherever You Are 4:51
21 Life Lesson 4:49
     feat. Lana Del Rey