“Souled Out” Album Sings Home

It has been just one week since the drop of R&B songbird, Jhene Aiko’s, long awaited album.  Regardless Souled Out already has fans and critics raving.  A long time supporter of Aiko, I was counting on the release of her first full album to be the highlight of my month, and it surely did not disappoint.  It seems that the emotional rollercoaster of the loss of her brother, birth of her daughter and a legion of failed loves has left Aiko with countless tales that contributed to the lyrical masterpiece of her first debut album.

A California Native, Jhene Aiko gained fame for her mixtape, Sailing Souls, in 2011.  The collection featured masterminds such as Kanye West and Miguel, leading her to a record deal with producer No I.D.  Since then, Aiko has transformed into an R&B princess, expressing her positive outlook on life through unique and relaxing melodies.  The amount of emotion in this album is breathtaking.  Aiko’s lyricism incorporates tales of love, heartbreak and loss through her signature, seducing tones.

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The album opens with the track “Limbo, Limbo, Limbo”, which tells the story of a failed love through a heavy drumbeat and light and airy piano riff.  The lead single, “The Pressure”, will have you feeling as if you’re floating through another world.  Aiko uses an edgy beat consisting of hard snares and jazzy chords to explicate a similar story of heartbreak.  The lyrics flow to a lighter note on the track “Spotless Mind”.  One of the strongest on the album, Aiko uses hollow percussion and a chill guitar riff to reminisce on nostalgic memories, including an ex-lover.  The melody shifts the listener to a spacey-trance that reflects Aiko’s free spirit and ethereal hippy lifestyle.

Inspired by Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up”, which the singer beautifully covered in 2012, Aiko closes the album with the ultimate tear-jerker.  As if her lyrics couldn’t get personal enough, “Promises” features vocals from both Aiko’s daughter, Nami and late brother, Miyagi.  In the first verse, the singer speaks directly to her daughter, vocalizing the struggle of being both a mother and a traveling entertainer.  The lyrics progress to an even more emotional epic that will have even the most deadpan person holding back tears.  Aiko sings to her late brother, ensuring that they are forever intertwined and his presence is always with her.  This track leaves the listener with a final message that regardless of life’s toils, everything will be fine.  Known for her freestyle technique, Aiko hooks up with legendary rapper, Common, for a chill freestyle, “Pretty Bird” to end the collection.

After listening to this album, it is clear that Jhené is not one to be messed with.  She’s been through the ringer, and she’s not afraid to express this in her lyrics.  In quite the Taylor Swift fashion, Aiko never holds back on calling out ex-lovers for their missteps, incorporating a theme of “girl power” in a number of her songs.  Sure, Jhené’s personal lyrics left me speechless, but the trance-inducing melodies add an aspect to her music that is simply indescribable.  Her soothing voice will lull you to sleep better than any lullaby, and her nostalgic lyrics will have you thinking about your ex even if you don’t have one.  Overall, this album has brought a new light to R&B, and is sure worth a listen.

 

Anna Newman, Staff Writer

 

Posted by on September 30, 2014. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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