Cincinnati, Ohio born Darian has led a challenging life resulting in ultimate victory. His birth father, onetime James Brown guitarist Calvin Goshade, returned to touring during his mother’s pregnancy and had no idea he had a son and his mother, Shelia Faye Owen, attempted raising him and his two sisters before cancer felled her ten days before Darian’s tenth birthday. Owen had chosen individuals to care for her children upon her death but sexual abuse soon fragmented the grieving children – Darian’s sisters were adopted and Darian moved thirteen times over the next three years before William and Marilyn Pellman adopted him.
Perhaps it seems natural, given his DNA, that Darian found music soon after. He started playing drums at the age of ten, began composing his own music by his fourteenth birthday, and had his own studio at the tender age of eighteen years old. He logged seven years as a member and executive producer of the band Non-Fiction but differences eventually dissolved the unit and Darian has worked as a solo artist since then. His album release Live For Love illustrates a vast array of influences – much of his material draws from hip hop, but blues and rock alike make their presence felt as well. His multi-instrumental talents fuel the sprawling eighteen song collection and his production work shaping the release distinguishes its sound.
The opener “Hit the Highway” melds his rock influences with a high velocity hip hop styled delivery. There’s a light synthesizer touch adding color to the track at key points, phased guitar riffing, and simmering energy keeping the track on a headlong path from its first seconds to last. This is a strong way to begin the album and the variation Darian brings to his vocal delivery further sets the song apart from similar efforts. The album’s title song opens with pensive and lyrical piano before expanding into a mid-tempo hip hop groove. It features second vocalist Jangles as a featured guest and his voice provides a low-key dramatic contrast with Darian’s own. Darian intends this song to stand as a definitive personal statement about his own destiny and what he wants from his world; the mix of attitude and musicality provides a perfect forum for such aspirations.
“These Things” is another mix of stylistic approaches opening with a blast of soul before incorporating his hip hop sound into the composition. It is impossible to not be impressed by the seamless way he blends seemingly disparate musical strands into an unified whole; other artists can’t pull such a synthesis off without it sounding disjointed and poorly conceived. “Down by the River” has a light funk edge and a moody near singer/songwriter sensibility unlike anything else discussed thus far in this review. The performance dispenses with the hip hop influences prevalent throughout much of the album in favor of a stripped down musical attack built around Darian’s voice and guitar.
“Gullible” has a slinky groove snaking its way over the course of three and a half minutes Darian matches with an understated vocal throughout. It is one of the release’s hidden gems and should be compelling in a live setting. The album concludes with a reprise of the title track sans Jangles’ vocal contributions – this take on the track varies little from the previous version but the additional emphasis on Darian’s performance gives it a greater personal quality than ever before. Living Darian’s latest release Live for Love is the peak so far in a short career, but he’s accomplished more as an artist than many of his contemporaries manage over decades. It is bracing to think about how early he is in his journey.