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For the deeply heartbroken seeking emancipation, Jhené Aiko’s debut album Souled Out will be your saviour. The album carries on the same themes and experiences noticeable in Jhené’s earlier work on Sailing Souls and Sail Out. Prepare to be taken on a personal journey that explores the pain and loss of love, and discovering the power to overcome the darkness.
Jhené’s poetic talent is immediately evident in the opening track Limbo Limbo Limbo, which sets the scene, as it encapsulates one’s confusion of the world and feeling misplaced. Her narration continues throughout the album.
The Pressure serves as the latest single and was directed by Childish Gambino. The video depicts the song well, going through the various pressures Jhené faces in life, including relationships, fame and single motherhood.
There are some gorgeous guitar riffs in the album, particularly in W.A.Y.S, (Why Aren’t You Smiling?), a song of perseverance, and Spotless Mind, about avoiding attachment, as she sings with soothing harmonies of being “a wanderer.”
Songs like To Live & Die featuring Cocaine 80S and It’s Cool and embodies the intoxication of love, the side of love that is completely irrational, and of being irrevocably devoted. This is opposed to Lyin King, which has a more vengeful effect.
It is not until Eternal Sunshine where we see a woman slowly emerging from the weight of her demons and into the light. In this track, Jhené begins to accept her life, without regret. This is followed by Promises, which is simply beautiful. It was inspired by Jhené’s late brother Miyagi and features her daughter Namiko. The closing track, Pretty Bird, metaphorically speaks of being free and includes a verse from rapper Common.
Jhené Aiko is a true storyteller. Her music is famously delicate yet takes listeners to a place of dreams – dreaming of escape and simplicity. Jhené’s desires are felt in the sweetest of voices that strongly resonates on this contemporary R&B record.