Saturday, 31 March 2012

Melanie Fiona- 'The MF Life' (album)

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Melanie Fiona can SING. Saaang even. Fiona lets her heart do the talking on the majority of her second album, "The MF Life". (Melanie Fiona Life? Or Muthafuckin Life?) Fiona flies under the radar for most people who don’t take notice of the R&B/Hip-Hip Hot 100 and that’s a mistake in itself, as "Life" straddles both contemporary and classic R&B sounds, making for a diverse and extremely listenable LP.

The album opens with "This Time" with a positive "Independent Woman"-esque message featuring J. Cole, but the album is quick to turn to Fiona’s sombre and vulnerable side. With "4am", she tries to deal with a lover who is everywhere but where he is supposed to be, while in "Wrong Side of A Love Song" she tries to comprehend how she ended up being the one “who’s standing left behind”.

The albums strong points come from the more classic throwback tunes "Watch Me Work", "Bones" and "Running", where she is accompanied by the elusive Nas, where you can truly hear the singers longing and desperation (in a good way), for all her relationship troubles to be over and done.

What’s interesting is that "Life" features six guest features, all of which are male (along with J. Cole and Nas, B.O.B, John Legend, T-Pain and Snoop Dogg pop up to get a piece of the oh-so-sweet MF Life). So for anyone expecting a rival to Brandy and Monica’s "It All Belongs To Me" or a "The Boy Is Mine" part 2, isn’t gonna find it on here, although it can be expected that the reason why Fiona has made this decision is to get the male perspective into how it feels to be on the Wrong Side of a Love Song.

For whatever reason it may be, it makes for an interesting dynamic to the album, although it must be said Fiona holds her own on her MuthaFuckin Life completely.


Key Tracks: Watch Me Work, Can’t Say I Never Loved You

Friday, 30 March 2012

Dawn Richard- Armor On (EP)

“You’re gonna hear R&B taken to a whole ‘nother level” states former Danity Kane and Diddy-Dirty Money member while speaking of her neo-soul 10-track EP. But isn’t 10 tracks just an album? Not by newly-solo Dawn’s standards. After being in and out of groups for around six years, Richard is finally calling the shots in her own career, after requesting to be released from her Bad Boy contract with Diddy to craft the independent label ‘Our Dawn Entertainment’.  "Armor" in large, appears to be a concept album, in which Richard straps on her alter-ego “NEON” who has been fitted with the task of carrying a sacred heart to…wherever it is she’s meant to be.

Richards flirts with the contemporary dance sound on 'Faith', however "Armor" is in the vein of Drake’s moody Melancholy&B "Take Care", with a splash of Janelle Monae’s "Metropolis Suite I: The Chase"; mostly featuring down-trodden and mid-tempo synths with almost jungle sounding drum beats (second track 'Black Lipstick' in particular) weaving in and out of Richard’s smooth and enigmatic voice. The album-sorry EP, truly kicks in on the third track and lead single 'Bombs' where she confidently bellows “Y’all throwin’ shade, but I’m so summer” stomping the h8rs out as they can’t phase her, and if she keeps going in this direction, they won’t either. “Armor” is a consistent album. Richards is vocally very strong, and as far as the current face of the dance pop/R&B scene (which has GOT to be over soon as we’re all so sick of it), we need more artists like Dawn Richards around to keep on taking the genre to the level she speaks of, and as "Armor" is envisioned as a prelude to Richards "GoldenHeart Triology" those who are bored of current mainstream music scene will probably find what it is they are looking for.


Key Tracks: Bombs, Automatic