May 7, 2014


Just last week, Paul Thompson asked me to christen his kid.

Dem Atlas is the kind of person to take a friendly “How’re you doing?” at face value. The short answer: it’s complicated. The unabridged version comes in the form of “All We Got”, the Minneapolis upstart’s first proper release since signing with Rhymesayers.

While last year’s Charle Brwn EP serves as an immediate, complete look at Josh Evans as a vocalist, the record’s emotional underpinnings take a while to untangle. There’s no doubt that he benefits from a healthy dose of revivalist good-vibes appeal, so it’s jarring to hear “No one understands me, not even my fucking family” as the start to a breezy summer song. On “All We Got”, he delves further into this confusion. “We’re all we got/Don’t let me down, don’t let me down” is not an unfamiliar sentiment, but it’s seldom presented in such a swirl of dejection and uncertainty. “Smiley face ‘til this face grew numb/I read books ‘til my mind grew dumb/Went holy so I speak in tongues.” The images are bleak—a lonely kid fixated on a single window, the walls closing in. It’s as if each new tangent qualifies the last one, the hook’s hopeful momentum the only thing tying it all together. “All We Got” strikes an emotional middle ground not by playing it safe, but by rattling back and forth between extremes.

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