Black Pumas confront expectations on “intentional” sophomore album, ‘Chronicles of a Diamond’

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When Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada first formed Black Pumas, they were just looking for someone to jam with. A breakout album, a hit single and a few Grammy nominations later, the duo now faces the dreaded E-word: expectations.

“There was no expectations on the first one, so it was a success however you shake it,” guitarist/producer Quesada tells ABC Audio. “But this time around you’re kinda having to live up to the last one. [We] certainly felt a lot of pressure.”

“I think at the end of the day, the best thing for that was to tune it all out and almost, like, start from scratch and really just remind ourselves that we had to make something that we like and that we were proud of,” he continues. “And whatever happens after that, happens.”

The result of that is Chronicles of a Diamond, Black Pumas’ sophomore follow-up to their 2019 debut, which spawned the single “Colors.” The album continues to experiment with the duo’s psychedelic soul sound, which Quesada feels is stronger in part thanks to his deeper relationship with Burton.

“I can just pick up on the vibe,” Quesada says of working with vocalist/songwriter Burton. “A lot of … what he writes is multilayered and not super obvious, but having worked with him for so long now and having played so many times, I can hear the emotion that’s coming out of the voice.”

Quesada also found that he and Burton had more confidence to speak up and disagree with each other on album #2.

“I think that’s all for the better this time around,” Quesada says. “Everything just sounds so much more intentional, and your hear both of strengths a lot more on this.”

Chronicles of a Diamond is out now.

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