Review: Dawn Richard's Album, "Redemption"

Updated on December 31, 2016
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Reviews are a pain-free way of combining writing, with what I love (music for eg.), in a way that generates interest.

"Redemption" Chooses Precision Over Burning Heat

After 2013's 'Goldenheart' and last year's 'Blackheart', 33-year-old New Orleans-born singer/songwriter Dawn Richard (aka D∆WN) unveils the final part of her album trilogy entitled, 'Redemption'. ‘Redemption’ is an interesting album, its songs can be fascinating. While the front two-thirds of the record can be classed as alternative R&B, the last part of ‘Redemption’ is harder to define.

The project’s showy opening tracks, ‘Love Under Lights’, ‘Black Crimes’ and ‘Voices’ are daring. Yet, they can all feel synthetic and overthought. The LP’s lasting moments, the ones that sound like they could actually compete with the many artists who are twisting up R&B at the moment, are found deeper into the record. They feel less affected. ‘Redemption’ chooses precision and canniness over unrestrained, irrepressible demonstrations of artistic heat. Even the album’s low points sound as if meticulous care was taken in making and crafting them.

Dawn Richard's Automated, Futuristic Creative Vision

Richard’s creative vision is android-like and automated, her distinct brand of out-the-box R&B is mindful and deeply intelligent. Maybe, it’s too smart. The project’s intro sounds like the album is literally plugging itself in. This overruling vibe isn’t detrimental, it glues ‘Redemption’ together. However, the LP’s futuristic vision can make certain songs feel detached. The tunes that are stunted the most are the ones which explore passionate, heartfelt subject matter.

The record’s longer interludes function as fully-fledged tracks. Richard brings up her dislike of being put into compartmentalised boxes at the start of interlude ‘Vines’, which features fellow Louisiana musician PJ Morton - and ‘Redemption’ explicitly reiterates that. The album’s more accessible efforts somehow find a way to incorporate production elements, or musical traits which keep them separated from mainstream radio’s instant R&B.

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The Ambitious, Unpredictable "Love Under Lights"

Richard’s alternative inklings don’t merge cleanly into every track on ‘Redemption’. While it could be argued that the failure or success of songs is part of music experimentalism’s thrill, ‘Love Under Lights’ falters slightly.

The cut’s trance and EDM touches feel ever-so-slightly out-of-date, as if they are attempting to imitate the genre without any deep knowledge of it. Also, the song’s overstuffed ending descends into cluttered, almost nonsensical hyperactivity. That said, ‘Love Under Lights’ is ambitious and legitimately unpredictable. Moreover, the rest of ‘Redemption’ balances out this tune’s full-throttle approach.

Highlight "Lazarus" is Out of This World

Within a generally mechanical sounding tracklisting, ‘Renegades’ flickers with fire. Helmed by rousing, charging beats, the tune targets the dancefloor. Again, because the track offers it’s own unconventional take on mainstream dance music, it can sound unintentionally (or possibly intentionally) outmoded. That aside, ‘Renegades’ is an instant, mighty track and should easily generate replays.

‘Lazarus’ is a another highlight, the whole cut sounds as if it’s about to take off from some sort of R&B launchpad. ‘Lazarus’ is grand, there’s a wide-scale, out-of-this-world quality to it. While Richard’s vocal performance is doubled over and altered, ‘Lazarus’ is enhanced by stocky, hectic R&B beatwork and tuneful melodies. Though ‘Tyrants’ can impact vacantly, the cut parades a number of seductive touches, it’s deep beats are particularly memorable.

The Subversive "Hey Nicki" Operates Like Clockwork

‘Hey Nikki’ is irresistibly subversive and really stands out. Adorned with free-falling, gravelly electric guitar licks, ‘Hey Nikki’ employs creeping, lop-sided production. Throughout it’s duration, Richard’s suggestive vocals are contrastingly layered and paired with digitally manipulated singing. Unlike other tracks on ‘Redemption’ the song’s stockpile of vocal tricks merge fluidly. ‘Hey Nikki’ operates like clockwork - and it could’ve been a mess.

Despite being only two minutes long, hypnotic interlude ‘Lilies’ has its charms. Laced with processed vocals and pretty, cascading melodies, the alluringly synthy, atmospheric cut is intensely padded out.

Richard Compares Her Lover to Fine Art on "The Louvre"

‘Sands’ starts off slinkily, but becomes a tad overdone as it integrates choppy, electro touches. Still, the tune’s sensual beats and unhurried, midnight aura are truly engulfing. Musing on how quickly life passes us all by, the singer uses the song to reminisce longingly on a past love.

Richard is hypnotised by the beauty of her partner on ‘The Louvre’. The dramatic, stagey effort admirably re-works the traditional love song. ‘The Louvre’ is underpinned by delicate, moody and luscious string sounds. The track’s lavish, ostentatious production and thought-provoking concepts explore the idea of Richard’s lover being a work of art - one that she has no interest in sharing with anybody else.

Verdict ******* 7/10

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