If you enjoy soothing and transforming vocals, being challenged and inspired by a unique and gifted singer, Drea d'Nur is for you.
The album opens with “Beautiful,” that starts off with a calming guitar then d’Nur sings “Whoa-ohh-Whoa-ohh” until the first verse starts. “She used to cry every day before school for the things they used to do to her,” d’Nur sings. You can tell this song is for the ones who have been hurt and/or are still hurting. “You’re beautiful, so beautiful,” she continues. I can appreciate this message. I was never bullied because of my skin color because I was in the majority. Even if you don’t relate to the abuse d’Nur alludes to, you’ve got to appreciate the message she brings forth. It is a message of empowerment. Never giving up. Knowing who you are, and remembering that you are always beautiful. “The size of my waist, God gave to me, and I love it, you can take it or leave it.” she sings.
The next track, “Cry For Change,” opens with her playing piano and holding a very calming note. Before the arrival of the first verse, I felt peaceful and calm. However, that changed. When the beat drops, I was immediately given to discomfort and a terrorizing sensation of fear. “I heard a gunshot” she sings. This is not a song that will make you feel happy. But instead, it will make you think about the terrible injustice and horrific violence that permeates American culture. If your skin is black, you can become a target quicker than one can snap their fingers. “Tell me what we gon’ do,” d’Nur sings. This is not an artist that hides behind masks of certainty or ill assurance. She puts her heart into the song, and it is not apparent that she has any answers to provide. However, it is still imperative to ask these questions. If we don’t ask these questions, we may retreat into blind optimism or vices of ignorance, denial and apathy. We may not even be aware that this is reality.
The entire album provides exquisite juxtapositions of anger and joy, beauty and ugly, pain and pleasure, fear and motivation. The voice is beautiful. The music behind the voice is beautifully haunting. It engages with the senses and provides a chance for the listener to build and destroy, inspire and frighten. Because something new and useful cannot come to fruition until the old and useless are forgotten, abandoned and/or buried.
Aside from “Systematic Slavery,” my favorite song on the album is “I Hid My Love (inside my hips).” d’Nur sings “my essence remains a mystery.” And this is my favorite line on the entire album. Sometimes there is strength to be found in not knowing. While acknowledging this, there is a ferocity of the spirit that will not give up even when a lack of answers is found. Music doesn’t always have to tell us what to think, feel or be. There is tremendous power found in allowing the self to remain a mystery. It is apparent that d’Nur is aware of this, as she displays on this song and throughout the album. This is my favorite song, but really, there are no skippable songs on the entire album. Every song serves it’s unique purpose. Every song is packed with emotion and understanding. If it isn’t understanding, it is a striving to understand. And that is powerful.
What is the downside of this album? You probably won’t want to drink, smoke or fuck to it. (However, if you’re making love, and not just fucking, I suggest you play “Love Stereo” and/or “The Way (uncut)” when things are getting intimate in order to bring it to that next level). It most likely won’t make you want to dance. But there’s plenty of music to party and dance to. We don’t have to party or dance our entire lives away. Don’t put this on when you’re cleaning your house. Put this on when you have a moment of solitude, time to really listen, time to think and time to be challenged emotionally, spiritually and mentally. If you like depth, insight, and being brought outside of your comfort zone in order for learning to take place, this album is for you.
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