Release Date: Apr 30, 2021
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): R&B, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative R&B, Left-Field Pop
Her mother cackles in response as if surprised to receive the question; she grew up in New Orleans after all. But it's revealed quickly that Richard's has posed this question to a different audience entirely. Second Line's opener, "King Creole (Intro)" immediately whisks us into a storm, where thunderous drums and muttered incantations serve to guide us into a new world, led by King Creole herself, Richard's alter ego.
From her 2005 debut Been a While to her singing competition days on Making the Band 3, Dawn Richard has been making music for almost 20 years. After her pop group Danity Kane's dissolution in 2009, she was the only member not let go from her contract with Bad Boy, where all five members had been originally signed. That same year, she joined Diddy-Dirty Money alongside the group's namesake and singer/songwriter Kalenna Harper.
Between 2013 and 2016, Dawn Richard used electronic music as bedrock in chronicling personal and professional trials over a trilogy of acclaimed albums, staking her claim as an R&B innovator, style fusionist and futurist in the name of artistic freedom. Further coronation came with 2019's new breed, a more direct embrace of her New Orleans roots that now inform Second Line: An Electro Revival. As its subtitle implies, electronics are what drive Richard's King Creole alter ego -- the armoured, feathered figure illustrated on the album's cover -- through the set of songs inspired by the titular parade tradition that, as Richard's mother explains in a clip of conversation, has no "set steps.
With a resume that includes cheerleader, Adult Swim animator, vegan pop-up food vendor and martial arts expert, it's perhaps no surprise that Dawn Richard gets restless playing in one genre. Subtitled 'An Electro Revival', Richard's sixth album is nonetheless a sprawling affair; R&B, house and trap jostle alongside curios such as 'Le Petit Morte (a lude)' [sic], a break-up jam unexpectedly belted out over Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata'. Sonically, 'Second Lines' arguably divides into three suites: a salvo of club-friendly opening tracks, an uneven middle section that appears to be mainly interludes, and a late rally of emotional electronic pop.