Release Date: Nov 18, 2016
Record label: Local Action
Genre(s): R&B, Alternative R&B, Left-Field Pop
At first blush, Redemption, the new Dawn Richard record, feels like a victory lap. The conclusion to a trilogy of albums, Redemption signifies the end of a project that felt, at one point, as if its completion were uncertain, between shifting collaborators and Richard's brief 2014 reunion with the girl group Danity Kane. Redemption's opening tracks also seem to confirm that it's intended as the inverse to its predecessor, 2015's Blackheart, the sound of which was thick and full of dissonance; Redemption initially feels weightless.
Dawn Richard's "heart" trilogy began with Goldenheart (2013), continued with Blackheart (2015), and ends with Redemption (2016). Between the second and third volumes, Richard issued a batch of non-album singles and an EP, and was featured on tracks by Machinedrum and Star Slinger. Each release provided further evidence that Richard remained among the most compelling, progressive, classification-evasive artists of her time -- all the more fascinating given that she had previously topped the Billboard 200 twice as a member of the pop group Danity Kane.
Dawn Richard is the epitome of hustle. Redemption represents the finale of a trilogy of albums that have collectively represented an Afro-futurist mix of electronica, pop and R&B.It hasn't always worked, but it's always been interesting. With her days as a member of ill-fated girl group Danity Kane from MTV's Making the Band firmly behind her, Richard has fought the "ad lib to fade" part of her career with a commendable tenacity.
The third act. The resolution. The denouement. In a three-act structure, this is the part where all the loose ends are tied up. The questions that have been posed throughout the narrative are finally answered as the plot builds to an often dramatic and intense finale. Often the central character ….
D?WN’s new album, Redemption, is billed as the third in the trilogy she began with 2012’s Goldenheart. She’s been on a steep upward trajectory since that release, culminating in last year’s Blackheart picking up rave reviews and placing highly on various year-end lists. She’s also carved out an increasingly prominent position in underground dance music, collaborating with Fade to Mind’s Kingdom on the Infrared EP, having her work remixed by Murlo and Deadboy, and working closely with Machinedrum on this album.
To put Dawn Richard in perspective, imagine a citizen of Atlantis; that is to say, picture someone whose influences and mind predate all else yet still appears capable and keen on things their contemporaries have yet to grasp. Exactly what Richard is keen on isn’t apparent. Her warbling resembles an auto-tuned siren riding the bass lines of a rock track, all while heralding bass drops that dip into richer valleys than any standard dubstep track.
Maybe it’s boring to note when an artist doesn’t fall within typical genre categorisations. At this point in time, fusing elements of electronic dance music with flourishes of pop, R&B and soul is not in itself something new. All the same, you could safely wager that there’s no artist making music quite like D∆WN (a.k.a. Dawn Richard) right now, and her being hard to pin down stylistically is absolutely part of that.
Dense, detailed and idiosyncratic, ‘Redemption’ doesn’t slot in neatly next to the tropical beats and minimal pop hits that are currently dominating the charts. But there will always be a place for music as rich as this that dares to be a little different..
"Redemption" is Dawn Richard's ambitious follow-up to 2015's “Blackheart.” With a gleaming head piece falling past her shoulders like some futuristic deity, Dawn Richard could pass for Sun Ra's spiritual cousin on the cover of her latest album, "Redemption" (Our Dawn Entertainment). The singer used to be in pop vocal group Danity Kane, but the music she's been making on her three latest solo albums — including "Goldenheart" (2013) and "Blackheart" (2015) — flirts with the avant-garde, even as it keeps one Afro-futuristic space boot on the dance floor. With a supple but never showy voice, Richard is an artist with far bigger ambitions than rushing the pop charts.
As we prepare to publish our Year-End lists (hit: it's coming very, very soon), that doesn't mean we'd still ignore our regularly scheduled Quick Takes feature. Carl and I, however, do have to acknowledge that because of the madness that goes behind-the-scenes this time of year, this month's will ….