New Audio: Loren Oden Releases a Marvin Gaye-like Ode to Black Women


Founded and led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer and Linear Labs founder, The Midnight Hour is a 10 member ensemble that also prominently singer/songwriter and guitarist Jack Waterson,  singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and 18 year old Los Angeles-born and-based phenom, Angela Munoz — and Compton-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Loren Oden.

The Midnight Hour released their self-titled debut back in 2018, an effort that established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily influenced by David Axelrod, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Now, as you may recall, since the release of  the ensemble’s full-length debut, Muhammad, Younge and and the Linear Labs crew have been extremely busy: last year saw the release of Jack Waterson’s psych rock, solo debut Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson, and a lengthy tour that included a Brooklyn Bowl stop last September. This year will see the release of the ensemble’s highly-anticipated sophomore album, as well as solo efforts from Loren Oden and Angela Munoz.

Oden was born into a musical family and grew up in the church, studying gospel, as well as Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. Throughout the years, he developed an affinity for vocal arrangements and earnest lyricism, which caught the attention of Younge, who’s a a long-time friend.  Slated for a May 1, 2020 release through Linear Labs, My Heart, My Love finds Oden sharing a uniquely curated sound with the listener: pairing lyrical transparency and vulnerability with orchestral arrangements and production by Adrian Younge — with the material being reminiscent of classic soul and progressive R&B. “This album is an amalgamation of my life in love: the ups, the downs, the good, the bad and the heartbreak,” Loren Oden says in press notes. “I strive to be transparent in my songwriting and I hope that the listener can hear and feel all the emotions that I’ve poured into this album.” As a result, the album is specifically written for the sophisticated, grown and sexy lovers out there, with the material delving into the guarded emotions we feel so deeply but try to avoid.

Now, as you may recall earlier this year, I wrote about My Heart, My Love‘s first single, the Valentine’s Day-themed “Is There A Way,” a deceptively anachronistic Quiet Storm-era soul-like single that recalled Al B. Sure!‘s “Night and Day” and Maxwell. The album’s second and latest single turns the clock back sonically and aesthetically to What’s Going On-era Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and Barry White:  Rhodes arpeggios, shimmering and soaring strings, a sinuous bass line and Oden’s plaintive and expressive crooning. And much like the period which seemingly influenced the song has an uplifting social message: “‘Queen’ is a song of encouragement to young black women. Being a father with daughters, I felt it was important to create music to encourage my girls as well any other young women growing up in this heavily male-dominated world,” Oden says in press notes. “What better way of displaying that than to have my daughters Sundae, Mikayalah and Ariana, as well as my niece and Adrian’s daughter Tomiko Younge in the music video. Their constant growth, strength and perseverance gives me hope for the future.”