Frank Ocean, ‘Provider’ | Track Review
Frank Ocean continues to show the world he ‘beats to his own drummer’ on his latest single, “Provider.” It’s a unique, if scattered listen.
Frank Ocean has been busy throughout 2017. That’s a bit surprising, considering how quiet the musician was in between his Grammy-winning debut, Channel Orange (2012) and Blonde (2016). Not only has he guested on tracks by Calvin Harris and Tyler, the Creator, he also dropped his own singles, including “Lens,” “Biking,” and now, “Provider.” What’s clear from the material that Ocean is releasing is that he doesn’t mind being experimental and in his own lane.
“Provider,” first and foremost, features a soulful backdrop for Frank Ocean to sing over. Ocean typically thrives when the production has a touch of old-school sensibility and minimalism. Here, the fuel for the fire is electric piano, a common accompaniment for the alt-R&B musician. Vocally, while this performance is gimmicky, you can still extract his beautiful tone of voice. Undoubtedly, Ocean is blessed with a unique instrument, no matter what he sings. Lyrically, he continues to be clever and left-field. Reading into his lyrics tend to reveal his genius more. Even with the oft-overt and sometimes disguised lyrical complexity, the chorus is simple, repetitive and catchy.
“Feelings you provide / Feelings you provide / I know it, I know it / The feelings I, the feelings, I know it, I.”
“Provider” does have its rubs, however. As far as accessibility, this is a very gimmicky record that’s ‘all over the place.’ Vocally, Ocean experiments with autotune and effects, yet, one wonders if he just sung the song with his nuanced instrument sans effects, would it be more enjoyable and effective. There have been many songs Ocean experimented with on Blonde where they came together a bit more cohesively. This one has its moments, but also is a bit off-putting too.
Ultimately, “Provider” is an interesting record by Frank Ocean. As always, his lyrics and innovative spirit are highly appreciated. His style is difficult to pinpoint, which shows the mark of a restless, creative musician. Still, “Provider” seems less satisfying from his best work, even if he’s pushing the envelope a bit. There’s something here, but the question is what exactly.