Blood Orange’s most recent album, last year’s Negro Swan, is a strongly personal album: Uproxx’s Aaron Williams previously characterized it, “In an era where music often seeks to escape the depressing effects of our times or directly address the events and politics that are the root of that depression, Negro Swan feels like an antidote crafted to directly address the depression itself.” Just because it’s personal, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s lonely. Dev Hynes showed that in his Tiny Desk performance, which was a surprisingly collaborative effort.
A lot of times, backing musicians are just that: backing, meant to be heard but not seen. That wasn’t the case here, though, as often times, Hynes’ band was at the forefront of the performance. On the set-opening “By Ourselves,” Hynes played piano while Eva Tolkin and Ian Isiah took lead vocal duties, along with some spoken word from Ashlee Haze. Tolkin and Isiah again sing on show-closer “Dagenham Dream,” and Isiah fronts the group on “Holy Will.” Hynes lets himself be the vocal leader on “Jewelry,” though. During the four-song set, Hynes plays piano, guitar, and keyboards, proving once again that he’s one of the most talented creatives we have, thanks in part of his understanding that you don’t always have to lead in order to thrive.
Watch Blood Orange’s Tiny Desk performance above, and revisit our review of Negro Swan here.