It is rare in a cultural milieu of antagonism, frustration, and political dichotomy to find a musician as positive and joyful as Seaux Chill on Freedom Ave. Characterized by spiritual introspection, Seaux Chill’s album proposes a solution for the frustrations of life through his gospel and jazz instrumentals, thought provoking lyrics, and pensive poetry. Seaux Chill sees beauty and joy in the small things; it is clear that the liberating mantra of the Christian life, for Nabil, is simple: Jesus loves us.
The follow up to his second album, I Heard God Laughing, Freedom Ave displays a level of instrumentation unmatched by his previous work. The album begins with Seaux Chill’s roots—gospel organ, jazz piano, bouncing drum beats and a triumphant choruses (which are all nuanced by the introduction of steel drums in Your Love Pt 1 and What is Life). The third song of the album, PB&J, however, slips into a more ethereal electronic beat. Echoing synths and a driving beat lift the us through the song. The transcendent climax of the song is the poetic interjection, which lifts us even higher with its floating chords.
After the first five songs, Seaux Chill has introduced most of his musical motifs and styles, and our familiarity with them allows us to slip into the rest of the instrumentals comfortably. We can enjoy the combination of his gospel and R&B styles in The Homie, the ambient rhythmic bliss of Interlude, and the choral anthem that is It Always Rains on Tuesdays with a pleasurable ease that allows us to focus on the deeper aspects Seaux Chill is calling us to.
Add to these creative instrumentals Seaux Chill’s powerful lyricism and you have the emotional journey of faith that is Freedom Ave. The potency of his lyrics come from Seaux Chill’s ability to relax with the simplicities of life, only to suddenly connect a much deeper spiritual theme with remarkable fluidity. His aptitude to dwell on the motifs of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the same time as the love of a sovereign God showcase Seaux Chill’s poise and confidence. More than just making for a pleasing, dynamic album, this aptitude personalizes the vulnerable artist and invites the listener into his perspective.
As he floats from prayers and meditations to jubilant psalms the listener cannot help but join Seaux Chill in his joy. Though never shying from subjects of his pain and hardships, Seaux Chill always returns to the freedom and joy that he finds in the love of God—a freedom that allows him to rap about pb&js, loving his mom, and abandoning the fear of inadequacy.
Freedom Ave is not just a triumph for Seaux Chill musically, it is also a personal accomplishment of his faith, art, and compassion for his community. Featuring vocals from Covenant College’s choir and East Lake Expression Engine kids it is clear that Seaux Chill is doing big things even beyond his music. Freedom Ave is a psalter that pulls us out of our pain and points us back to Jesus, giving us the hope and freedom to love our neighbor.