In lesser hands, the concept of Jon Batiste's World Music Radio might have been a careening sprawl of a mess. Instead, Batiste keeps the 21 tracks on the album relatively short so the entire record runs around 50 minutes. While not all the tracks are potential Grammy winners, Batiste is not here to try to bore you.
Jon Batiste simply wants to entertain. While his 2021 record, We Are, won the Grammy for Album of the Year, his latest album is unlikely to. Not that World Music Radio isn't good because it is, but the intent of the record seems to be to allow everyone to have a good time. This isn't an attempt to make great art, but more of a backing soundtrack for your family and friends to hold parties, cookouts, improv comedy shows, and have a great time. World Music Radio is summer music.
But if you like different styles of music, you are going to love this record. Batiste borrows wisely from rap and mixes it with K-pop, he uses Catalonian singers along with jazz horns and reggae beats. He is a very smart musician who knows how the pieces fit together. For those who only know him as the leader of Stephen Colbert's talk show, you've missed out. But don't start listening to Batiste with this record.
Jon Batiste's World Music Radio is worth a listen if not a perfect album
This one is more for the long-time fans. Batiste is too great of a musician to be measured by this work. Each song here is wrapped in a singles track and Batiste knows that. Many songs exist for just around two minutes. He gives you the feel of a style mixed with another, but he isn't trying to fuse the rhythms into an entirely new genre.
There are stellar moments on the album, to be sure. "Boom for Real" makes fuzzy a dance club beat and ties it with a heavy rock influence. "Uneasy" features Batiste in fine voice over an EDM mix. "Master Power" somehow echos early REM.
But this album is ultimately supposed to bring people together and find the common bonds of musical styles. That's a large task and Batiste almost brings it home. World Music Radio is worth your purchase, but just might not be your most listened-to record.
Rating: 7 out of 10