Summer Walker is arguably the coolest R&B queen out there right now. The Atlanta singer consistently delivers relatable hits that are making the genre seem cool again, all while dealing with an awful lot of background noise.
Walker has been publicly scrutinised in recent years over a number of personal issues, including her battle with social anxiety, her newfound parenthood and her high-profile break-up with Young Thug and Future producer London On Da Track. Walker and London memorably teamed up for the former’s 2019 smash hit debut album ‘Over It’, but with the producer now out of the picture, it’s comforting to see that on her second album, ‘Still Over It’, Walker continues to demonstrate just how flawless she is as an artist.
If ‘Over It’ was a set of ladies’ anthems about love, then ‘Still Over It’ is one for the break-up. While it’s evident that Walker had fallen out of love while recording ‘Still Over It’, there’s a more autonomous feel to the album that comes from her newfound freedom. ‘Reciprocate’ starts off with some powerful lyrics that establish Walker’s worth, while reminding us all that love is a two-way street: “I ain’t even care ’bout your riches / You know I’m a different girl.” Building on her beautifully simple storytelling qualities that we all fell in love with on ‘Over It’, Walker emotes this relatable feeling of giving things up for her own sake atop of angelic harp strums.
Walker also feels empowered to cathartically air out all of her frustrations about the man she once loved, sometimes to a quite shocking extent. Take the highly anticipated ‘4th Baby Mama’, which sees Walker sing: “I wanna start with yo mama, she should’ve whooped yo ass.” The singer then claims that she spent “my whole fucking pregnancy alone” and that her ex bought her “nice shit, big dates, just for Instagram flashing / Tryna get your likes up, know you’re a clout addict.” These sorts of jibes turn an otherwise laidback and rather serene R&B cut dramatically on its head.
The 25-year-old enlists her A-list friends to rally around her on the new record, with Pharrell, SZA and Lil Durk all contributing guest features. Cardi B even kicks things off by narrating the opening track ‘Bitter’ and telling Walker: “Don’t let bitches feel like they have a one-up by destroying your moment.” Ciara, meanwhile, rounds things off by narrating ‘Ciara’s Prayer’.
But the best team-up comes on ‘Unloyal’, a duet with Walker’s best bud and rising R&B soul sister Ari Lennox. Walker takes on an India Arie-esque vibe during this smoky, soulful song, and it’s a true delight. “You think that I need you, boy, you funny / Got my own money,” Walker sings in a high register before Lennox, ever the supportive best friend, bowls in: “I said you can come and pick up your shit / Acting like you paying for shit / In yo bow wow du-rag / Outside with yo doggie bag.” Despite their differing styles, the two singers combine perfectly here.
While Walker understandably vents about her highly public break-up on the record, sonically she goes to places that she’s never explored before. In addition to the aforementioned ‘Unloyal’, ‘Throw It Away’ takes influence from the Timbaland–Missy Elliot dream team on the late Aaliyah’s never-aging 2001 self-titled album. But it’s ‘Insane’ that provides the perfect amount of alt-R&B as siren-like electric guitar notes whirl around, adding a steeliness to Walker’s haunting lyrics (“Now what you in a rush for? /
What, you trying to meet your maker, darling?“). Walker increasingly sounds like she’s having fun and finding her confidence in performing. Playing around with her vocal delivery, the smoky, jagged vocals on ‘Insane’ will drive you, well, insane – in a good way.
While ‘Over It’ featured a number of slow, mushy and loved-up songs, Walker’s second record sees her make a conscious effort to not solely depend on the same nostalgic ‘00s R&B vibe that helped her rise to fame. A certain darkness has descended on the once-pink fluffiness that memorably featured on ‘Over It’s album cover, with ‘Still Over It’ instead displaying a whirlwind of emotions. Walker has a song here for every feeling following a crushing break-up, from confusion to anger to outright pettiness – and it’s the kind of unwavering quality that we all love her for.
While this album might not immediately click with those who loved ‘Over It’s R&B pop hits, it’s worth remembering that ‘Still Over It’ is primarily for Summer Walker. In her time of need, she turned to her only safe haven, music, to find the closure she so desired.
Release date: November 5
Record label: LVRN / Interscope