If you’re reading this review right now, the odds are you’ve probably already had to absorb today’s latest breaking news regarding COVID-19 and the panic it’s causing across the earth, and while it seems unlikely that we’re going to see a day in the near future that isn’t weighed down with some sort of story regarding this emergent pandemic, indie musicians like Darrell Kelley are doing their part to keep things chipper in these toughest of days. Kelley’s new song, “The Coronavirus,” is perhaps just the shot of R&B flavor we needed this April, and I seriously doubt I’m the only critic saying as much.

There’s an argument to be made that the bassline in this track is even more emotively expressive than the words Kelley sings to us are, but I wouldn’t take this statement as being disrespectful of the lyrical substance here in the least. Contrarily, the texture of the instrumentation is so communicative in this song that any set of verses, regardless of their poetic value, would have paled in comparison with the sonic conveyance taking place behind our leading man’s every word (both sung and spoken alike).

This beat is frustratingly angst-ridden in a couple of spots, but as I interpreted to “The Coronavirus,” this moody element adds more to the narrative than it takes away. I would have given the drums a little less oomph in the chorus, but even with the present parameters standing, I don’t know that you’re going to find another R&B single, indie or otherwise, with quite as much tonal definition as Darrell Kelley’s latest release is featuring. He’s always been about the little intricacies in his work, but this track might take the cake in terms of its meticulous design.

You can definitely tell that Darrell Kelley was thinking about scoring some steady airplay with “The Coronavirus” when observing how seamlessly he merges the lyrical delivery with the instrumental harmonies towards the end of the song, and despite the jagged edge on the mixing of the melody in the hook, there isn’t a single element within the cosmetic make-up of this release that I would have altered prior to it hitting record store shelves. He might not be a household name, but as long as this player continues to consistently develop his music with as accessible a finish as he has with his last few studio cuts, he’s going to maintain a very loyal audience through the years.

2020 has brought forth a lot of interesting R&B crossover artists previously undiscovered in the annals of the American underground, but of those who I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing this year myself, I think Darrell Kelley is definitely among the brighter musicians in his genre at the moment. “The Coronavirus” is a spirited song for troubled times, and while I don’t believe it will stand as the only composition written for this unique era in world history, I think it’s certainly got the potential to go down as one of the more honest and endearing of its class.

Garth Thomas

The music of DARRELL KELLEY has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more https://musikandfilm.com