Photo Credit: Eric Ray Davidson
As the end of the fall season moves into winter, R&B heartthrob Bryson Tiller’s third studio album Anniversary was released just in time for newfound loves and rekindled romances. Coming off of a long-awaited three years since his 2017 sophomore album True To Self, the new LP has been met with heavy eagerness, and a more than receptive welcome from his patiently obliging fan base. In Tiller’s true captivating fashion he does not disappoint, as the album provides just what it needs to. Tiller’s voice and vocals are flawless throughout, still making it all sound effortless. The brief 10-track album possesses the energy and magnetic flare that made him an immediate household name for rhythm and blues lovers everywhere, with joints like “Don’t” & “Exchange” from his 2015 soul-filled debut album Trapsoul.
Both thoughtful and sentimental, Anniversary is a late-night campfire delight, with just one feature appearance by incumbent hip-hop chart stomper Drake, on the lead single “Outta Time.” The two trade verses going back and forth on the ups and downs of their respective relationships. However, while the track is a solid invite into what the rest of the LP delivers, it is by far not the peak that the album reaches. On the intro cut “Years Go By” Tiller (who also goes by God-Tilla for his impeccable songwriting skills) reintroduces himself behind an edgy upbeat tempo reminiscent of Trapsoul’s “502”, when he barreled his way onto the contemporary R&B scene as a young, silky-voiced kid from Louisville, barely out of his teens who had something to say, and made damn sure everybody heard it.
As Anniversary progresses, he still proves to be a more than legitimate pop-soul contender. For example on the infectious “Sorrows”, he vocally assassinates the mid-tempo instrumental while expressing affection for a distant lover. The savvy sure fire sounds of “Inhale” pays homage to the classic sounds of R&B, sampling SWV and Mary J. Blige between the lines of romance drama, and confessions to suffering from depression while on an extended break from music. As he sings lines such as: “I ain’t feelin’ well, kept it and then my tears fell // Yes, I spent all these f*ckin’ years dwellin’, yes, I feel irrelevant” And “F*ck bein’ on Forbes, I felt rich when I was yours.” “Always Forever” and “Timeless Interludes” will be fan favorites as well. Neither giving too much or too little relatable rhetoric. The message gives you just enough to keep listening. Clutch!
Tiller has always been a guy who only presents himself when he has something to say. He would quietly prefer the backseat rather than the front. Whether it’s his humble beginnings, personal struggles or simply a down-home relevant factor in his music, the low-profile star has managed to sustain likability and remain an artist that you continually root for. He recently told Genius podcast host Avishai Cohen that the inspiration for Anniversary was not only his late grandmother who he was extremely close to, but also from growing through the reception of his now classic debut album which ultimately went on to be certified triple platinum. It’s safe to say that Bryson Tiller is back like he never left, and just in time to serve up more than enough southern comfort to carry us through yet another season.
NOTE: As a bonus, a deluxe version of debut LP ‘Trapsoul’ preceded the release of ‘Anniversary’. The deluxe contains songs that were featured on Tiller’s Soundcloud in 2015 that fans had requested to be officially released. Including singles “Just Another Interlude”, “Self Righteous”, and a new collaboration with The Weeknd, titled “Rambo: Last Blood.”