By Kavit Sumud | February 12th, 2013
We covered the original “Green Garden“ back in January, and I really wanted to love this track as much as her others. After all, the melody lilted with serene bursts of color, the vocals ascended with a rosiness that seemed cherubic, and the hand claps punctuated the proper skips in your heart — but that punctuation was just too neat, everything a little too in its place.
It wasn’t a “She“ (which I spent countless hours listening to in the bath), and since the production was technically pristine, I thought I should be at least bowled over by Mvula’s creativity. But it wasn’t until I heard Monsieur Adi’s remix that I understood why Mvula’s version never connected: the beauty of her tracks are their ability to wander wildly through an amorphous arrangement that ends up replete with emotional revelations at unexpected moments. “Green Garden” kept a poker face (albeit a happy one) throughout its 3:50 and I just wanted to see it exasperatedly sigh once.
So what I appreciate the most about Monsieur Adi‘s remix is that it doesn’t show its cards right away. The arrangement shuffles and sidesteps its way through the song, always smart to be at a perfect level of tension with the lyrics; thereby, providing a whole set of new avenues for the song to explore. You won’t find us walking down the sunny street in Mvula’s video doing a jolly exultation in this track, though. Rather, Monsieur Adi turn “Green Garden” into an exploration in anguish and anxiety before a moment of action.
Monsieur Adi’s arrangement uses synths and strings to read the lyrics in a way that conveys travelling through a depressed mind about to step into the sunlight. That mind doesn’t jump sans helmet straight into the bright road. It hems, it haws, it circles back further into the darkness and sometimes it sits in a neurotic stasis that you can’t hope to decipher. Even that smiling face it braves in its first steps out in the light is littered with cues of false bravado. I felt like Mvula’s version forgot that joy inspired by hope is only cheap chutzpah initially, and Monsieur Adi’s lets linger the many missteps that lead to the song’s merrier lyrical couplets.
But maybe I’ve just learned to not trust a happy song, or I’m jealous I’ve never escaped from languishing luck in a straight line like Mvula’s original version. So, mad credit to Monsieur Adi for keeping Mvula’s spirit alive while also turning the bare bones of her track into something brilliantly layered for us darker hues in the human palette. I always did like the track after all, I just needed my entryway in.