Reviews

Dawn Richard | ‘Goldenheart’ | ALBUM REVIEW

 

The chemistry between Dawn Richard and Druski is on a level we haven’t heard since Aaliyah and Timbaland delivered classic after classic. Case in point: “Return Of A Queen.” It’s the first song on the album, and it’s amazingly complex. It’s comprised of layer after layer of instruments to make a beautifully fresh production. The hard drums mixed with the synths, the beatbox vocal from Druski (very reminiscent of Timbaland), and everything else…it’s perfection. And Dawn’s vocals? When we speak of Dawn’s music, we always say how amazing it is, but we never single out how amazing her vocals are. And even on a hard, complex production, her vocals shine through brighter than ever before. It’s an amazing beginning to an amazing album.

 

 
The intricate jungle R&B continues on “Goalith,” before Dawn mashes the jungle R&B with the dance world to create the single ready “Riot.” The triumphant song is lyrically about fighting for love, starting a riot to get to the person you want. Fans of Dawn’s “Faith” from the ‘Armor On’ EP will love this song. Dawn was pushing the song as her next single, so best believe when the video premieres, it’s going to raise the bar yet again; as she does with every video she drops. The jungle pop continues on the inspirational, more chill “Gleaux.” The track is good, but it turns GREAT mid way through when the beat gets more militant and darker. If a Hollywood film ever needed a futuristic soundtrack for a bad ass war movie (like a futuristic ‘300’), ‘Goldenheart’ would be perfect. The production is just, so damn top notch.

We heard “Pretty Wicked Things” in 2012. We even put it on our Top 15 R&B Songs of 2012 list (where it came in at #6). It’s yet another case of militant, lyrically charged genre bending amazingness. The song starts off dark yet calm, before building into a huge dubstep infused banger during the chorus. This is the kind of music that makes Brandy’sΒ Two ElevenΒ sound like Ke$ha in comparison. And for this calibur of music to be coming from an independent artist and unknown producer combo, it’s insane. “Northern Lights” sees Dawn go from jungle pop/dubstep/R&B, to hip hop. The first true banger of the album comes packed with heavy 808s, rhythmic hand clapping, and New Orleans percussions. But it’s still very futuristic and fresh, separating Dawn from everyone else on the radio. This is definite a fresh approach on a club banger. And we welcome it whole heartedly.

 

 
“Frequency” sees Dawn finally get sexy, YES! With Dawn’s cooing of lyrics like “Take it high/Until you get enough/I can feel it build/ The frequency is real/ When you turn me on,” we got a rush of blood to the head listening to the track! Not stemming too far away from her jungle inspired R&b niche, Dawn shows she can be sexy like the best of them, but still keep her artistic integrity. We love it.

Dawn sings the life of the Hearts “Warfaire.” The first piano laced slow song is beautifully arranged, and equally amazing lyrically. Dawn lets it all out as she sings about a lover who didn’t love her, after she was ready to give her life, die for this man. “Don’t wanna be another scar/ but I fell in love with harm/ All your bullshit and your charm” Dawn cries on the personal ballad. We’d say this is a standout record, but with the quality of the rest of the album, damn near every song is a standout.

 

 
The mellowed-out vibe pushes forward on “Ode To You.” The song features piano and a boom-bap drum beat as the singer sings the complete opposite of “Warfaire.” This time around she sings about the lover that welcomed her with open arms, the man that was the “only constant truth in a world full of lies.” Another great song, this one with more of a hip hop/soul vibe. The Hip Hop/Soul then transistions into an 80’s Prince vibe on the lead single “86.” We we won’t go into detail on this one, but it’s another great contribution to the damn near flawless album.

 

 
Dawn says “To hell with the sappiness” closer to the end of the album with the high energy dance number “In Your Eyes.” The song is far from one of those senseless David Guetta/Calvin Harris numbers that Rihanna would sing as “In Your Eyes” is actually a very culture conscious ode to the dreamers. Dawn sings about redemption for people on street corners and sleeping on park benches. It’s a song about freedom and chasing the dreams that she can see us chasing. If you ever needed proof that Dawn is a lyrical genius, here’s your proof.

The first thing we notice on “Break Of Dawn” is vocals. Dawn’s vocals are flawless on this album, and this song is no different. If any song on the album was going to make an unexpected, but well deserved climb up the Billboard Charts, we say it’d be this one. The mid tempo urban/pop song screams hit to us, much like Beyonce’s “Halo” did, and Keri Hilson’s “Knock You Down.” It’s commercial, it’s catchy, there’s even some guitar strums in there. We love it. It’s a departure from the overall militant jungle sound of the album (probably because Druski wasn’t behind the production), and a move into the radio formats.

That move to radio formats didn’t last long, as on “300” (wasn’t I talking about that movie earlier?), Dawn gets back to that signature strong, militant R&B sound. She belts “We could’ve parted seas just/ to walk on the floor of the ocean/ We could’ve built an army/ of nation’s unstoppable,” relating love to being a battle, the theme of the entire set. The album closes with the piano ballad “Goldenheart.” It’s a song that showcases Dawn’s husky tone and great range like you’ve never heard it before. It’s a 2 minute audio gift from the heavens above. Couldn’t even imagine there being a better way to cap the album.

 

 
Overall, “Goldenheart’ is a near flawless blend of jungle inspired R&B and dance music, infused with doses of dubstep and hip hop every now and then. As far as R&B albums go, this is on the level of Miguel’s ‘Kaleidoscope Dream’ and Adele’s ’21.’ The chemisty between singer & producer captured in these sound bites are incredible, and we doubt that we’ll hear a more cohesive, and sonically impressive R&B album for the rest of the year. Dawn has set the bar incredibly high for veterans like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and Mariah Carey, and we think nobody, including those two, will be able to deliver a higher caliber set of songs. They might have stronger songs, as in amazing singles, but as a collective, cohesive effort, ‘Goldenheart’ is indeed golden.

 

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