Messy Sparkles, JD Paul’s solo project, has been making waves in Fayetteville’s small but thriving musical pond since he began performing live. Only recently with the release of his debut album, Feeling Good Forever and his nomination for a NAMA (Northwest Arkansas Music Award) in the Best Indie category (ironically alongside, or against if you’re a cynic, Memphis Pencils, for whom he plays drums) has Messy Sparkles come to be known as one of this pond’s most impressive fishes.
I might have called him “biggest” rather than “most impressive,” but his stature – as anyone who has laid eyes on the small and beautiful Paul will attest – suggests otherwise. Strangely enough, that says a great deal about the ethos of his music in that, despite its robust, bass-heavy beats, there is nothing intimidating about it.
Take, for example, the opening beat of the opening track, “Thank God.” It is anchored by a deeply tuned kick drum, the foremost element of hip-hop. Now if the world can agree on one thing, it’s that because intimidation is such a common theme in hip-hop, it is among the most intimidating (and if you’re over the age of 40, frightening) of genres. But despite this, the beat maintains a welcoming air through the complex interplay between the rest of the jangly and buoyant percussion tracks. And though the vocals sung over this opening beat might reasonably be compared to the wailings of The Ghost of Christmas Past, when taken in the context of the street-parade-like-beat on the track, it takes on a tone of preparation, asking amiably, “Are you ready for what comes next?”
Messy Sparkles’ “Feeling Good Forever” is an album you can be friends with. I think it’s fair to include here Paul’s message on Facebook to the world, “I will be your friend every day,” which appeared for some time under his profile picture (appropriately enough of his disarming smile). That message may as well be the official slogan of “Feeling Good Forever,” which ranks, I’m sure, among the friendliest and most youthful albums you, or I for that matter, will ever hear.