R&B Reviews

Sabrina Claudio album cover

Sabrina Claudio’s “Confidently Lost” EP Review

We are introduced to a memorizing and fierce artistic debut. Within the short timeframe of twenty-six minutes, Sabrina Claudio embraces the unbeatable restrain of falling for someone who shows nothing more or less than a promising future in “Too Much, Too Late.” The continual stirring of frustration that her partner is harshly lacking the ability to communicate in “Tell Me.” The conflicting single-minded thought of how love is discovered and found to be the wrong type of love because they’ve barely scratched the surface of what love is all while randomly switching from one person to the next in “Runnin’ Thru Lovers.” She proudly stands her ground in understanding that she is nowhere but will definitively end up where she belongs in the title track “Confidently Lost.” She finds herself reminding her partner through acts of compassion and support that their love is supposed to feel cosmic and unparalleled to those around them in “Orion’s Belt.” Finally, the unwavering double standard of love is explored when she tires of giving her partner chance after chance, only to find herself the victim of the weakness that he himself is and exploits in “I Do.” The last track being an acoustic rendition of the second track “Tell Me.”

Claudio’s vocals are unlike any we have yet to hear in 2017. They’re a mixture of pure silk-like driven tenderness complimented by a soft yet deliberate emotional tone. A perfect example of this is how she sings the chorus of “I do” “/I should be leaving/You’ve given millions of reasons/But I don’t, no I don’t, no I don’t, no I don’t/Cause you know you’re my weakness/And I should be healing/But I don’t, no I don’t, no I don’t, no I don’t./” The lyrics are a cause for celebration as well. They’re surreal and tasteful while always surprising the listener as they cradle them into a submerged state of wonder. The poetic grasp, whether meant to be heard or not is a more than welcomed lyrical feature that nestles itself comfortably between the verses and choruses.

There is a significant amount of relatability off this record since she was purposefully herself. By not trying to be like any other artist out there she carved a niche just her own. While Claudio is not yet mainstream herself, I don’t think that we’ll ever have to worry about her trying to please the critics. She shows us that all she had to do was to musically invest in herself for her debut to be a success. A passion project that is organic as it is beautiful, “Confidentially Lost” is a stellar EP debut from an artist whose full-length album will be nothing short of spectacular, to say the least.

A-

Written By: Sam Piscitelli

Gallant and Andra Day Single cover

Andra Day & Gallant’s The Room: “Crusin’” Cover Single Review

What happens when you take two of the most compelling R&B artists of 2017 and have them sing a cover of one of the classics? Absolute, undeniable beauty. In The Room: “Crusin’” combines Gallant’s impenetrable falsetto and Andra Day’s heart hitting vocals for a deeply soulful experience. Staying true to the original the composition doesn’t change. If anything this cover is more of a dedication than a revamping of sorts. The cover, unlike many covers, doesn’t fall victim to overproducing or over-exaggerated runs. Instead, it harnesses what Smokey Robinson set out and completed with ease, authenticity, and heart.

A+

Written By: Sam Piscitelli

toni-braxton-deadwood1-thatgrapejuice-600x600

Toni Braxton’s “Deadwood” Single Review

Toni Braxton’s lead single from her eightieth studio album, “Deadwood” is one of the most authentic songs of her career. With an outpouring of concentrated fighting will, Braxton’s voice hasn’t lost its edge in the slightest. The composition is just as revitalizing with an acoustic guitar, a drum, and a violin all co-existing to breathe life behind her vocals. Braxton’s willingness to forfeit the comfort of privacy for an all-out display of personal perspective is admirable and pays off. The song vibrates through your bones for an uplifting experience like no other. After four years Braxton is as fresh-faced in her music career as ever. It’s as if she never left the game in the first place.

A+

Written By: Sam Piscitelli

Jussie Smollett Sum of My Music Album Review

Jussie Smollett’s “Sum of My Music” Album Review

A refreshing take on modern R&B, Jussie Smollett’s debut album “Sum of My Music” has allowed for a complex and dynamic artist to be born. Smollett’s candid look inside his life outside of the shadow of Empire’s Jamal Lyon has proved to be the kind of reflection worthy of praise. Each song is crafted from the body of a man unwilling to be nothing more and less than his true self. We are brought into an artist’s true identity, not one bought or manufactured for the sole purpose of selling records. Smollett’s debut attempt is a view of what musicians should be releasing.

The first song that showcases this beautiful individuality is the first track, “Insecurities” as it sets the atmosphere for what we come to expect from the rest of our listening experience. The vocals are brilliantly lush, leaving little to no room to question the emotional connection Smollett has to his songs. The lyrics focus on the details of a man that make him diverse and different to those around him in society. “Will his blackness scare white folks away?/ Will they all turn when they hear he’s gay?/ Is my success just one big mistake?/ Yo, don’t be a bitch listening to what they say.” The second song “Ha Ha (I Love You)”, is a man completely and wholeheartedly infatuated by the presence of his boyfriend. The vocals are drizzled with sultry anticipation and delicate love. “You make me wanna (ha ha ha ha)/And I gotta tell ya (ha ha ha ha)/And I gotta tell you, that you make me wanna/You make me wanna scream.” The album stays deeply personal as it immerses itself in love, “Catch Your Eye”, “What I Would Do”, “Freedom” and “Don’t Go.” It also shows the hurtful nature of disappointment, “Smile” and “Hurt People.” Throughout the different aspects of love, hurt and self-awareness we find a record framed as independent, non-confirmative and unique in all its own way.

As an openly gay and black man living in modern-day America, Jussie Smollett decided to showcase an album that is centered around him. Not one that boasts about his sexuality or race, but one that acknowledges it because Smollett understands the differences that are a part of him, but refuses to let them define him. This album created more than an artist’s perspective but a view into the life of a man who is black, who happens to also be gay but is willing to showcase that his life is as just as “normal” as that of a straight white man, but with a few differences. It created an idol for children who are either black, gay or both to have someone to look up to and say, “Maybe one day I can do that too.”

A+

Written By: Sam Piscitelli

Edited By: Kendall Graham

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