How brave and full of confidence (or stupidity) do you need to be to try reimagining "I'm New Here" (2010)? I mean, there are thousands of shitty albums out there to try to do something new with them, but no, you decided to choose one of the perfect ones. Ok, it is not an easy task, but let's be honest, McCraven proved his point, He took this perfect album and gave us something new, his own vision of the last Scott-Heron record.
But, even when you need to recognize McCraven did a very good job, it is also true that this new version is not as perfect as the original. The album still has this kind of reflexive/intimate layback mood, and the arrangements are for sure more elaborated (point for McCraven) than the ones recorded in 2010. "I'm New Here" is one of the highlights with no questions. Is soft, warm, and the percussion is precious. "Where Did The Night Go" is another triumph, you can feel the claustrophobic sensation in every second of the track (it is definitely an upgrade from the original) and finally, "The Crutch" adds the precise amount of grooviness to the album.
Otherwise, while the album has these fantastic moments, it also has some missteps. For example, "Me And The Devil" is one of these songs that you can not pretend to improve. The original version was full of heart on the interpretation and the music background was as good as you can go for this type of song (the horns definitely adds nothing to the mix in this one, sorry). "Blessed Parents" is so jazzy that it does not really match with anything else on the record. Finally in a conceptual level, the record has a couple of additional problems. The first one is the amount of vocal interludes (four instead of two) with no clear purpose or meaning, and the second, is about the vibe of the record. The original version is 100% compact, this one has a little bit too much of everything and at the end sounds a little bit lost.
Don't get me wrong I think this 2020 project is amazing and has some wonderful tracks (if you are a collector my advice probably is get both of them) but 2010 "I'm New Here" has something that you can not try to improve. Actually, the major problem with the 2010 record was that it was too short for everybody. And believe me, most of the time, that type of problem speaks for itself.