Jahmal Padmore’s debut solo album, Esparonto, arrives via Telephone Explosion Records on May 28th, 2022. Padmore has been honing his producing, songwriting, and drumming skills since 2007, working with artists like MSTRKRFT, The Carps, Just John and Brendan Philip. This extensive studio & collaboration experience has primed Jahmal for a standout debut, one that encompasses the diversity of his past musical work. Esparonto is a stunning collection of ten post-Afropunk R&B tracks that are languid, sexy and wry.
There is an undeniable sense of self-reflection that runs throughout Esperanto. Lyrics about distant regrets, ego detachment, and unconditional self-love are reoccurring, sung through Padmore’s signature lyrical croon. “... I can’t give you the things you need, without forsaking a part of me,” sings Padmore in the chorus of album opener Sorted, perfectly encapsulating the overarching vibe of Esperonto. Guitarist Benja’s foggy haze of abstract jazz chords provide a welcoming and warm atmosphere required for such deep contemplation.
Esperonto kicks it up a notch on the more hip hop-leaning tracks. Operator (ft: Matthew Progress), Ingestion (ft: Keita Juma) and Pretty are all rife with energy, with the latter taking the cake as the song most likely to be stuck in your head for the next 10 months, at least! The classic combination of a sample pack-worthy beat and a massive chorus are at work here. The song begins with the lyrics “I can’t help it if god made me pretty,” setting the hook for a stadium-sized chorus where Padmore proclaims “My ego gets me high/My ego tells me who I really am.” A follower of spiritual guru Ram Dass, Padmore appears to be one step closer to his goal of enlightenment, and is not ashamed of it.
The album closes with “So Cold,'' its most delicate track and a perfect come-down after such tireless self-evaluation. The epic crescendo sees Padmore repeatedly announcing “I’ve lost myself.” It’s clear that he has shed some unnecessary facets of his personality and is ready to move forward. Recording at Telephone Explosion’s Studio Z, the trio of Padmore, Benja and OBGMs drummer/keyboardist Colanthony Humphries began with lengthy jam sessions which eventually became the cores of each track. Padmore plucked the most progressive bass and percussion
elements from the sessions and added samples to create Esperonto’s uniquely live aesthetic. The album was then mixed by Louis Cremades at House Of Balloons (The Weeknd) and mastered by Kevin McPhee at East End Mastering.
Esparonto’s title is drawn from the name of the constructed language that Polish ophthalmologist L.L. Zamenhof created in the late 1800s. On this album, Padmore constructs a musical language all his own, with songs firmly rooted in R&B that expand to include elements of jazz, ambient, house, hip hop and pop. After years of holding space for other artists and productions, Padmore’s thrilling debut is a clear proclamation from an artist who is ready to step out of the shadows and into his own light.