"I don't think people really know who I am because I didn't get a chance to show it [after] Hurricane Katrina," Dawn Richard, AKA DAWN, told Billboard last year. It's only recently that the American artist has explored her Louisiana roots. She's spent most of her solo career inhabiting less earthly realms, from the epic fantasy tropes of Goldenheart to the sci-fi tinge of later work.
A trilogy of expansive albums plus a crop of intermediary releases and featured appearances did not deplete Dawn Richard's reserve. On New Breed, her first major release since Redemption, the label-defiant marvel again switches up her supporting co-producers and cooks up another half-hour of authoritative progressive pop. Cosmopolitan as ever and adaptive to each backdrop, whether it includes percolating Germanic synthesizers, elastic disco-funk basslines, or window-shaking drums, Richard also keeps her New Orleans hometown at the fore, honoring her Washitaw Nation heritage, indulging in flashbacks, and incorporating musical references that are either understated or happenstance.
'N othing can stop me," sings Dawn Richard on the title track of New Breed, "I do what I wanna." Of course, pop stars are always saying things like that, but Richard is more headstrong and unique than most. The path from TV talent show pop star to edgy leftfield auteur is largely untrodden - or at least it was until Richard started gamely tramping down it. She first came to prominence in the US as a member of Danity Kane, a girl group manufactured to Sean Combs's specifications on the MTV series Making the Band.