One of R&B’s freshest faces, Alina Baraz, proves that she’s a sucker for love on ‘It Was Divine’. She’s often associated with Danish EDM star Galimatias (with whom she previously collaborated on 2016 EP ‘Urban Flora’) but after 2018 solo EP ‘The Color of You’, Cleveland’s own steps out on her own again for this sultry debut album.
Bringing along buddies such as Khalid and 6lack, the 26-year-old explores matters of the heart with this schmaltzy collection. Easing your mind with soft electronic R&B, Baraz allows crooning synths to play around in the background of the snuggly ‘Endlessly’, which bursts with adoration for that special someone. Expressing herself simply, she explains the feelings of anyone caught in a love trance: “You read me like a horoscope / You lean into me like you know”.
This theme of blinding love continues throughout ‘It Was Divine’ with tracks such as the Khalid-featuring ‘Off The Grid’ and the self-love anthem ‘Who Got Me’. The former oozes romantic chemistry as the duo tell a story of two lovers with unwavering loyalty. You’ll get lost in the spacious instrumental as Khalid and Baraz tell you their plans to go “Off the grid in the El Dorado”.
But the standout feature here is ‘Until I Met You’, which sees the R&B star match her talents with those of hip-hop legend Nas. He spent last year celebrating the 25th anniversary of his epochal debut album ‘Illmatic’ with the world, but it’s clear that the New Yorker is absolutely anything but a nostalgia act. Here he offers a short, thoughtful verse about his search for ‘the one’. Addressing his affluent lifestyle (“Was just focusin’, takin’ some time to escape / Appreciatin’ how they make wine from grapes”) he moves on to asking more introspective questions: “Do marriages last any more is the question?”.
Still, there’s not a great deal to make Baraz stand out as a truly unique talent. R&B heavyweights such as Jhene Aiko and Summer Walker are breathing new life into the genre, bringing it right up date with bracingly forthright lyrics and cutting-edge production, and ‘It Was Divine’ seems bland in comparison.
Release Date: April 24
Record label: Mom+Pop