It is said that the tough times are the true measure of a person’s character. By that definition, Solange is empress, artist and saviour all in one. Eight years after this maverick R&B singer’s second album, and four years since her cathartic portrait of a break-up (True EP), she has gifted us with a bold, vibrant album about freedom and the worth of her people.
An album like Yes Lawd! does not come around every year. It’s a collaboration between Anderson Paak and Knxwledge, two tirelessly creative musicians who, as Stones Throw puts it in the album’s liner notes, are no “stranger to the head-down hustle”. Both are in heavy demand right now, having worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Dr Dre, and released their own solo work (Malibu, Hud Dreems) to great acclaim. So Yes Lawd! is a special bonus. Paak and Knx have put together a 19-track mix of songs, skits and snippets for you to kick back and chill.
Corinne Bailey Rae is content. Content that the creation of her third album has been a fresh direction for her, even if it may not feel like that to all listeners initially. Six years on from the phenomenal, Mercury-nominated album, The Sea, the Leeds musician, who tragically lost her first husband, saxophonist Jason Rae, in 2008, is in love again and wants to share her newfound happiness with the world. The Heart Speaks in Whispers doesn’t quite have the total flourish of its predecessor, but it is an album of serenity and patient beauty.
Surprise digital album releases have simply become the “new standard” for a section of big-name artists. Still, Solange’s reveal of her first full-length album since 2008, A Seat at the Table, was enough to send the R&B faithful into a spin last week.
Los Angeles soulster, Moses Sumney, has an astonishing voice that can freeze you in place.
Anderson Paak’s Malibu is incredible. This multi-disciplined singer, rapper, songwriter and producer has been living a breakout year, appearing on tracks by Schoolboy Q, Kaytranada, Snakehips and Mac Miller to name but a few. Malibu, with its flavoursome grooves and relatable hooks, is the type of album you’ll want to listen to from end-to-end, and shout about to all your friends.
Six years after being introduced to the UK’s king of nu-soul, Sampha, we’ve still not experienced the joy of a full-length album from the singer. But perhaps we’re finally getting closer. Following the release of ‘Timmy’s Prayer’ earlier this year, Sampha’s dropped a new single.
Izzy Bizu’s debut album is a party. A party with plenty of liquid punch, your favourite selection of synthetic snacks and few real surprises. It’s like a made-for-radio tour through pop albums of the last two decades: a dollop of Jess Glynne, a pinch of Little Mix, a squeeze of Jamelia and just a hint of Little Jackie. But, what it lacks in originality it makes up for in sheer sun-glazed pick-‘n’-mix pop.