In the five months since his November release of Fall Denim, Ripley Snell has been busy working on collaborations and clothing lines, and is already putting out his sophomore album, Natural Flavors, which is a six-course menu of imaginative lyricism. He draws inspiration from be-bop, hiphop and R&B, funk, metaphysics, and his Portland surroundings.
The titles of each track on 6 Natural Flavors are named after the often unnatural and additive ingredients listed on the back of a Coca-Cola. Tied with Snell's lyrical content, the album serves as a metaphor for the sugarcoating of political and socioeconomic problems which have grown over time into the everyday norm. The album is said to be inspired by and dedicated to the individuals that live on W. 3rd Ave in downtown Portland.
Speaking his mind and keeping it real, Ripley Snell is a storyteller giving insight on Portland nights, homelessness, and racism with candor. Jazz infused “Caramel Colors” speaks on “gentri-fried chicken" and feeling isolated from the Portland Spirit because of his style. “Phosphoric Acid” has whirling string loops, primal urges, and some hilarious personal hygiene disclosures. “Caffeine” begins with a sub octave vocal sample of the words “easy beats" then quickly gets to tackling the topics of STD’s and dying on the street. “High Fructose Corn Syrup” begins with some good advice: “Let’s do things well... let’s do ‘em well,” then jumps into a flow of colorful metaphors about Monsanto's lucid dreams and hanging out with fat polar bears on frozen lakes "drinking blue chip shares." While Snell is getting lyrically deep inside issues, Neill Von Tally's beats throughout the album feature jazzy and playful instrumentation and vintage audio sampling including everything from the triangle bell to string trios and brassy melodies.
Ripley Snell will celebrate the release of Natural Flavors by performing the album in it’s entirety with a public all-ages show at the NW Portland art gallery and clothing store Upper Playground at 7pm sharp. There will be access to a free download of the album at Ripleysnell.com for a limited time when the album drops April 23rd. In the meantime, check out his album Fall Denim.
- Brandy Crowe