All The Single Ladies: Week #3 - Emeli Sandé, Nelly Furtado, AlunaGeorge, Kherya & Lulu James

They say that love is supposed to make you stronger, but on Emeli Sandé's latest slice of sound, she proves that sometimes being in love can have you writhing in sheer agony. A toxic romance is where Sandé finds herself, but she's not going quiet as "Hurts" is her dramatic confessional of being dangerously in love, and the result is about as blistering and savage as Colin Powell's e-mails --- erm, well, with much more melodic fire and a lot less political pettiness. 

I didn't realize it has been four years since Miss Sandé released her acclaimed debut, Our Version Of Events, but here we are and soon its follow-up Long Live The Angels will be making its appearance before the year is up. Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of OVOE, even though its lead-off single, "Heaven" snatched my soul with its Massive Attack-esque epicness. "Hurts" reminds me of "Heaven", as it brings on the heartache and raises the gooseflesh with its uprising of cinematic strings, claps, and towering gospel backing, and Sandé spitting out a couple of swears now and then (she says "shit"...a lot) but doing it so tastefully that it's almost...poetic.

Nelly Furtado - Islands Of Me 

Though I'm a bit sadden that the 'palette cleanser' "Behind Your Back" won't be featured on Miss Furtado's forthcoming 2017 release of The Ride, but "Islands Of Me", the album's official first single, is a nice frolic into synth-ville that gives us a strong preview of what's to come. 

Furtado's lost weekends with Dev Hynes have been paying off as Furtado seems to be tapping into the homespun off-kilter vibe she made her forte when she flew in 'like a bird' back at the turn of the millennium. Even though those Timbaland-Loose years were a great look for her (yes, Loose is fantastic album, I didn't stutter...), on "Islands Of Me" she sounds like she's chasing herself, not a trend. It's not ZOMG amazing, but I like the urgency of this track and its reflective lyricals cause sometimes you just need to put down the script and get back to self, and that is sometimes the realest offering you can gift yourself.  

AlunaGeorge - Mediator

It's always a sad moment when I cannot engage into an album, no matter how many listens I give it, especially an album from an artist that I enjoy. Maybe I need more time to marinate in the grooves, but the Briton duo's sophomore set, I Remember, hasn't exactly charmed me. Though I'm quite the tough customer to woo, I appreciate that the duo decided not to play safe for their second go-round, and instead expand their electronic sound and experiment. One song that gave me an eyebrow raise was "Mediator", a twilight jam that doesn't play safe at all, even though it's about as leisured as can be due to its lush quiet storm groove and heavy dosage of strings.

The track's subject matter on the other hand isn't as chillaxed, as Aluna Francis waxes from a bluesy disposition about her coming to the aid of a romance-wrecked friend, offering wine, a little smoke, and a shoulder to cry on as most good friends do.

Kherya - Spring Cleaning

The opening verses in this track are the Sometimes you just gotta weed out, scrub out, and sanitize all the negativity, and all the people, places and things that aren't allowing you to put your best foot forward. Kherya shows you the way on "Spring Cleaning", giving you the unfiltered and unapologetic truth of what it means to totally detox your inner circle.

Kherya is a newcomer to the R&B game, hailing from the small town of Sedalia, Missouri and with one album to her name (last year's Take Flight), but she's not small in voice as on "Spring Cleaning" she belts out with effortless conviction. Of course the first thing that came to mind when I first heard this was: This is sooooo Mary J. Blige-y. But I think that's a compliment, considering that I was in the mood for a little nostalgia this side of My Life. "Spring Cleaning" won't dethrone "Be Happy" as the call-for-self-care anthem, but it still rests in a timeless message about getting over and under bullshit and having the scars and the regained self-esteem to prove it.

Lulu James - Falling

Like Nelly Furtado and Kherya, Lulu James is also on that self-preservation tip as her artful DJ Simbad-produced single, "Falling" is a breathtaking survey of what it means to be caught up in the one-sided love affair and losing all sense along with it. Oh, this track is a heartbreaker alright, but it has a happy ending, as in the midst of viewing the wreckage her heart has made, James emerges, and rebuilds, learning from her 'fall' to regain back her sense of self.

An elegant hymn is what this song feels like as it ascends in an echo chamber of thematic vocals and repeated refrains, this true to the cosmic chicness of James' "21st Century Soul", a sound that I've been a fan of since indulging in singles like 2013's "Sweetest Thing" and 2014's "Beautiful People". 2017 could finally be the year people covet Lulu James as a soul-ist for the future, and with "Falling" that sentiment is more fact than fiction as can be.
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