Released in the fall of 2020, Marcus J. Moore’s first album, “spr blk: liberation jazz and soul from the ‘70s and beyond,” was an expansive 60-minute set of underground Black music that seethed with intensity, like an avant-garde band working out provocative material during a late-night gig. On purpose, the music reflected the dismay of the year: Once again, America was forced to reckon with its divisions along racial and political lines, and the rise of Covid-19 halted the global economy and forced everyone indoors for an extended period of time. The album was therapy for Moore personally. The author, curator, and music journalist had just released the highly-anticipated first book on rapper Kendrick Lamar. The themes across the record were reflected in the narrative.
For “spr blk 2: love joints, jams for the crib and beyond,” Moore looks inward, offering slow songs meant to simmer at night, or beneath overcast skies when afternoon turns to evening. “This is the kind of music I grew up listening to,” Moore says. “I wanted this to feel like Sundays after church, sitting in the living room with just the screen door keeping you from the outside. I also understand that my work has a certain urgency attached to it. I wanted to remind myself that it’s okay to chill.”
There’s still a lot going on here, of course. Side A is full of the kind of bluesy romantic soul that listeners of Stax Records would appreciate. Side B is slightly more upbeat, but still downtempo and primed for after-hours spots. “And the music is largely, if not fully, obscure,” Moore continues. “Some of it you may recognize, but hopefully very little.” In the end, “spr blk 2” pays homage to his relatives and the inspiration they provide — even if time and space doesn’t allow him to vocalize it as often as he’d like. This album is an offering to them and others around the world who feel the heart of the music. “Making a mixtape is a love language,” Moore concludes. “I hope this album recalls a beautiful memory.”