On his first full-length album as Soft Glas, Brooklyn producer and songwriter Joao Gonzalez explores music making as emotional and spiritual therapy. Many of the initial beats and ideas that make up Late Bloom, a diverse palette of richly constructed experimental soul, were produced during a period of depression. “I was in the midst of anxiety attacks, and producing seemed to be the only thing that calmed my breathing,” Gonzalez wrote in a track-by-track annotative breakdown for the LP. Mental unrest and nostalgia permeate throughout Late Bloom, but it’s often countered by an excellent cast of contributors and collaborators whose voices lend a vivid sense of hope and positivity.
Among them is San Francisco native Alex Szotak, who played bass guitar on several tracks and is credited as an executive producer for the album. “On January 3rd, 2016, I tweeted at @alex szotak “hey I want bass chords on my songs : )” and as a result, this album was born,” Soft Glas wrote for the description of “Round,” the first song the two worked on together. The duo spent much of this year passing ideas back and forth to develop the direction of Late Bloom.
Elsewhere on the album, Brooklyn vocalists Fishdoll and Madison McFerrin (sibling of Taylor) contribute vocals, as well St. Petersburg, Florida based artist Kyle Wyss. Soft Glas provides vocals on occasion, namely on Late Bloom’s closing track, but he seems much more comfortable writing and allowing other artists to interpret his ideas. This dynamic works well with musicians like Chargaux (strings), Cautious Clay (sax), and Marion Ross III (trumpet) who add depth and soul to these exceptional, genuinely moving songs, which were mostly recorded on phones and in bedrooms.
Throughout the LP, Soft Glas teases ideas that stray from the left-leaning R&B singles he shared leading up to the record’s release. These wayward ideas take the form of brief interludes like “Melted Snow” and “Yosemite,” instrumental acoustic numbers that expose an alternative side to Soft Glas, one that’s vulnerable, raw and transparent. It’s best articulated in “Bloom (I’m Feeling Just Like You),” which features no contributing musicians. He wrote the following about the track: “Through the process of making this album, I grew closer to all of my collaborators. I found peace, love, and confidence. Ultimately, I gained perspective and empathy.”
Read the Late Bloom annotations here, and stream the debut album by Soft Glas below.