REVIEW: M & O – Almost Us
by Reginald Duvivier
After having met original in Brown University during an MPC workshop, Jamila Woods (aka Mila) and Owen Hill (aka Otis) collaborated here and there until they formed their M&O project (originally Milo and Otis) a few years ago. With one EP under their belt, they just released their sophomore album, Almost Us.
While they are relatively a young act the years they have worked together is apparent; there is a surprising amount of confident musicianship for a duo. Milo shifts her voice sometimes taking on a brassy jazz-like tone (“House”) but not afraid to throw in some very folky vocal yelps if the song needs it (the chorus of “Jimi Savannah”).
Otis puts in work here also. A song like “Run!” feels like it had it’s origins as a stripped down soul jam, but the driving unusual percussion in the song helps convey the tension of the lyrics. And finds time to throw in a flute solo somewhere in the mix. They also don’t stay in one specific lane as far as songwriting and music are concerned, when attempting to explain their sound they have mentioned the term, “adventure soul” and it sums up what they do well. Take “Hollow” for instance that calls to mind the dark urban gospel of TV On The Radio more so then any soul song.
Overall, Almost Us is a very solid piece of work by two talented individuals. While many musical duos struggle to find ways of expanding their sounds M & O sound bigger then most bands twice their size.