Ian Isiah - AUNTIE Music Album Reviews

Ian Isiah - AUNTIE Music Album Reviews
The Brooklyn-based funk singer’s first proper album strikes a balance between sweet and larger than life, aided by Chromeo’s sleek production.

In Black culture, the title of “auntie” holds specific, almost folkloric meaning. So much more than an aunt (merely the sister of a parent), aunties may or may not be blood relatives but always serve as a vector for an extravagant, all-encompassing feminine force, not as nurturing and direct as motherhood but still having a hand in shaping a young child’s perceptions. They are the women whose Sunday outfits are the most glamorous, whose nails are always freshly done, whose presence is the most anticipated at Thanksgiving like a midpoint between Anita Baker and Mary Poppins.
The fact that Ian Isiah, the multi-faceted, unapologetically freaky singer-songwriter, has named his first proper album Auntie isn’t a coincidence, and it’s not just a nod to his Black lineage. To anyone in the know, it positions him as the benevolent diva, the fun-loving, streetwise pastor preaching to the neighborhood kids. It says that his ever-changing hairstyles, his half-shaved eyebrows, and his bejeweled grill are not “alternative” by Black standards, but rather firmly anchored in his heritage.

This is abundantly clear as soon as Auntie takes off, with “N.U.T.S” (which, amazingly, stands for “Nigga U the Shit”), a velvety mid-tempo funk number built around plaintive saxophones, a slack and supple bassline, and twinkling electric keys. However, a dark current runs through the groove—the opening and closing sample of the track is a woman screaming homophobic slurs in the middle of a busy street (“He’s a man, he’s a woman? That’s a disgrace! An abomination!”). It’s ugly and unsettling, but Isiah’s lush falsetto completely embraces you by the time the chorus kicks in: “You gotta make some room for the people that wanna love ya.” You can hear the carefree smile in his voice, and like that, the tone of Auntie is set—one of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-assurance.

On his two previous mixtapes (2013’s The Love Champion and 2018’s Shugga Sextape Vol. 1) , Isiah explored a more contemporary side of neo-R&B, melding hip-hop, electro, experimental, and trap into his funk and gospel background. Auntie, however, is produced as a collaborative project with Canadian duo Chromeo, who have spent nearly two decades perfecting their own retro-’80s signature. The marriage of these two sounds—Isiah’s futurism and Chromeo’s nostalgia—sets a mood that’s less envelope-pushing than what we’re used to hearing from Isiah, but still marks a definite evolution in music and vision. This is far from a bad thing. Sleek, hi-fi production choices make Auntie’s message of exuberance all the more explicit.

Isiah, raised Pentecostal, is blessed with the kind of voice that only an upbringing in the church can produce—deeply soulful, grippingly melodic, downright heavenly. While a dancefloor-ready track like “Lady Bug” sees Isiah delivering sexed-up vocal runs to rival Rick James at his slinkiest, it’s on “Loose Truth,” the album’s tender closer, that he truly soars. “This is my truth,” he repeats, elevating the lyric to a mantra, his voice taking on a different flavor at every turn: soul, gospel, funk, R&B. The harmonies are impeccable, like a choir beamed directly into your skull. He’s harking back to summer block parties where open fire hydrants sprayed the street with rainbows, where a Holy Trinity of Patti LaBelle, Luther Vandross, and Chaka Khan blasted from cars parked on the corner. On a record so sure of itself, “Loose Truth” stands out for its vulnerability, embodying Isiah’s own experiences and sense of community. Like its namesakes, Auntie revels in being larger than life while retaining a sweetness that only amplifies its sass.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Ian Isiah - AUNTIE Music Album Reviews Ian Isiah - AUNTIE Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 Rating: 5

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