Toronto native Tommy Paxton-Beesley, or better known as River Tiber, is a vocalist/producer that understands music on an almost visceral level. He's probably most well known for being used on the second half of Drakes fantastic track "No Tellin" from If You're Reading This Its Too Late, but there's so more to him than being a part of another Frank Dukes sample flip. His past two EPs have been fantastic alternative R&B projects and have left me waiting for me. Can the Toronto native deliver a different brand of R&B different than the OVO boys or is there only room for one creative house in Toronto?
GENESIS "Genesis" drops you right into River Tiber's atmospheric world and it feels great. The song uses minimal production that could be at home on an ambient drone CD, but its short length keeps it from feeling too overbearing. Overall, "Genesis" is just a sampler for what's to come.
NO TALK Oh "No Talk." This is the song River Tiber is currently most known for. If you don't like "No Talk" then you probably won't like the remainder of this LP. The slightly off-rhythm synth meets the constantly swinging drums and the stable bass line creates a dreamy vibe that I never want to end. "No Talk" takes clear inspiration from the neo-soul movement of the mid to late '90s and gives it a modern facelift of millennial emptiness and drug usage. The ending of No Talk is fantastic as it breaks down into acapella vocal layering that is simply magical. The songs untraditional format will either make you gravitate towards River Tiber or quickly back away.
ACID TEST This one surely takes another druggy dose of inspiration and damn is this trip good. River Tiber and co lay a funky sonic backdrop that turns into a hazy post-chorus section which quickly jumps to a drum breakdown and then right back to a second verse. While this song isn't perfect, the arrangement is nearly seamless which is an achievement since this song contains such high levels of funkiness paired with ambient moodiness.
MIDNIGHT Its a good thing that Midnight is fourth on the track listing because at this point in the album River Tiber has delivered mainly downtempo songs. This one, of course, falls in a similar vein, but because of the production it feels more upbeat than the first three songs. The song relies on distorted synths and four on the floor kick drums to keep it moving as River Tiber uses his masterful vocal layering to add weight to this song.
WEST (feat. Daniel Caesar) On "West" it sounds as if River Tiber has sampled himself (were getting into Inception level territory here folks) and its every bit as dope as it sounds. This song is the most lyrically straightforward thus far and ends up being one of the more relatable tracks on the album. Both Tiber and Caesar have voices that make you want to lay on your bed, look at the ceiling and contemplate life. Once you hit that point of maxin and relaxin the duo pulls the plug on the song and the dream-like atmosphere comes to an abrupt conclusion. Stop playing with my emotions River Tiber.
MOTIVESs This is a somewhat forgettable song on an otherwise good album thus far. Motives finds River Tiber playing with his strengths as an arranger. Some of the lyrics on here are a little cringe-worthy (If you were near youd feel the moon is pretty much a meh lyric) so the song isnt perfect, but Motives is an oddball of a song that has some replayability.
BARCELONA Barcelona picks things back up with its groovy bass and guitar riff. On Barcelona River Tiber croons about how he is an unreliable lover, but still wants to be loved. Its not the most original song concept, but this track is still a good one. River Tiber makes empty love feel as good as pizza and drinks on a Friday night. Whatever that means. Also this song has real hand claps and a tambourine? Yeah, you already know this one is a must listen.
CLARITY (feat. Tess Parks) The 808s and rimshot on this song are too cool for words, but its my job to write so lets get into describing Clarity right now. This song is as weird as it is awesome. It takes trap elements and mixes them with ambient indie/electronic elements to make a mix of something new. Thematically this song is kind of like three upside down question marks as the lyrics loosely focus on God and knowing yourself. The sample at the end only makes matters more confusing, but overall Clarity is one of the better joints on this album.
I'M THE STONE Im a Stone makes great usage of a wobbly synth pad and minimal harmonization. Lyrically this is one of River Tibers strongest songs on Indigo because it makes sense for the most part. On Im a Stone its safe to assume that River Tiber is describing himself to be in an inebriated state of mind as he watches the world around him. As the song progresses it once again uses trap elements but seamlessly mixes it into other genre palettes. The whoops that are found during the songs chorus are a nice touch as well.
MARIA Maria is the second of three of the tracks on Indigo thats under two minutes in length, but it's really great. I personally wish that River Tiber had extended the length on this one because it just feels good. River Tiber sings about how he should just let go of feelings that he once had. Seems like heartbreak is truly native to Toronto nowadays. Overall, Maria is a song that can stand on its own even though it has a short length.
GREEN IN BLUE Green In Blue is the last under two-minute track on the album and it mostly acts as a jazz-inspired interlude. The usage of upright bass and a dissonant piano riff is eerily beautiful. This track proves that River Tiber is not only a great vocalist but also a skilled instrumentalist.
FLOOD This is how you end an album. While River Tiber struggled with some of the sequencing on this album, he does know how to open and close a project. His whispery tenor floats over a piano that has just the right amount of too much reverb and is slightly out of tune. Halfway through the tune, the song takes a dramatic shift into River Tiber's' atmospheric world of lowpass drums and drone note synths. After this transition, the drums begin to pick up the songs moving rhythm and River Tiber ends it all with a bang. Flood is easily the best song on Indigo besides for the single (and sample) worthy "No Talk".
VERDICT: Ultimately, Indigo is a good album that has some missteps in terms of its sequencing and lyrical content, but it more than delivers in terms of its production. It isn't a masterpiece, but it definitely deserves a few listens and a handful of the songs can even stand on their own as singles. For an artist that was previously only known for being sampled in a Drake song, River Tiber proves that he is an artist, producer, and overall a kickass musician. Hopefully, in the future, well see more cohesion from River Tiber's projects.