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Dawn Richard - Second Line: An Electro Revival Music Album Reviews

Dawn Richard - Second Line: An Electro Revival Music Album Reviews
For almost two decades, Dawn Richard has been increasingly beholden to nothing but her own satisfaction as an independent artist. Her sixth album is a decadent testament to her maturation.

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. In less than two years, they recorded an album, Last Train to Paris, plus two mixtapes before going the route of DK and disbanding in 2012. Since then, Richard’s trajectory as an independent artist has involved balancing artistic freedom alongside financial restraints. Her sixth album Second Line is a testament to her musical maturation.

With its 16 tracks that blur the lines between song, spoken word, and short stories, Second Line is a continuation of an avant-garde musicality born from the place Richard calls home and where she returned after her pop career stalled. Conceptually, the album takes from the New Orleans tradition of parade revelers gathering to dance, mourn, or celebrate. Whatever the occasion, music is constant, and so is the idea of being an individual within the crowd—you move as a unit while keeping your own pace. Jazz is the most known accompaniment; and yet in a Second Line, you’ll also hear an eclectic fusion of funk, hip-hop, soul, and blues.

Second Line is a synth-heavy record that makes liberal use of frequency and vocal modulations, evoking very human insecurities with the steady manipulations of modern tech. The album is couched in house beats, a geographically malleable force that can transport you to a club in New Orleans, a party in Johannesburg, or a beach in Salvador. It could work as a companion piece to Solange’s 2019 album When I Get Home, in the way it connects threads of Black migration that first brought travelers to New Orleans. Aside from their meditations on belonging, both artists’ solo careers expanded the limits of what it means to be a Black woman bending multiple genres. “Nostalgia” is light on lyrics yet brimming with cleverly arranged melodies and Richard’s voice freely bouncing over the beats. “Bussifame” goes from grime to R&B to the unmistakable sounds of percussion rooted in the familiar rhythms of the Black diaspora, all in less than five minutes. On “Pressure,” her voice hangs over a heavy bass intro that builds into a danceable midpoint. “Oh, I really think it’s time/For us to bump and grind/Ride the pony Ginuwine,” she croons.

A little-known fact about Richard is that she has a deep passion for anime (the name Danity Kane came from an anime character she drew), with its empowered female characters who are as lethal as they are tender-hearted. But rarely are they Black, as her album cover depicts, yet that has not deterred Richard’s love for the art form; it’s instead compelled her to lend her efforts to animation via her work with Adult Swim. All this to say that the absence of Black faces and Black women in spaces that interest her has not stopped Richard from going in headfirst. Like other Black women who didn’t plan on being pioneers, she’s become part of the genesis out of a sheer need to not be boxed in.

Throughout Second Line, a female narrator pops in to converse with Richard. It’s only on “Mornin | Streetlights” that we realize the woman is her mother. When asked how many times she’s been in love, her mother responds, “One time. Your father.” Richard’s tone is languorous on this two-sided track—on the first half, “Mornin,” her mood is sensual, Urban Hang Suite-reminiscent; on “Streetlights,” it’s moody, dark, and pounding. Her choice to transition from the early sunny outlook of “Mornin” to the overcast end of “Streetlights” is, like the rest of the album, a gesture towards the range of human emotions.

Love stories are often sentimental, but they’re also turbulent—sometimes all at once, with the same person. “Le Petit Morte” takes Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and turns the already mournful composition into a ballad for the brokenhearted. “I’ve been battered and bruised/I’m too good to be this used,” Richard offers as a lamentation. It’s not just about asking to be treated nicely; it costs infinitely less to be nice than it does to be good. Niceness is transactional, where goodness is labor. It’s that under-appreciated emotional exertion that Richard harnesses on the song to express love and survival after pain.

Scattered through the album, these intermissions are as vocally revelatory as her longer singles. “Voodoo” and “Pilot” are held together by the agility in her tone that goes from low, steady rhymes to soaring pop intros. Their presence highlights that Richard was luxurious with her time when making the record. She would not be rushed, she’d slow down if the mood called for it, and she’d muse for 58 seconds if the moment was ripe for reflection. The beats are decadent, but so too are the liberties she takes as an independent artist beholden to nothing but her own satisfaction.

Richard continues to make music that bears a resemblance to multi-faceted artists like Justine Skye and Teyana Taylor. All three have been signed to record labels run by men who’ve not quite figured out how to best support some of the most talented artists on their rosters. Whenever Skye drops new music, fans decry the lack of promotion, and Taylor has walked away from the industry after vocalizing frustration over the label’s treatment of her and getting “little to no real push from the ‘machine.’” That “machine” is the music industry and all its flexible conventions in many ways but archaic in others. When it comes to the latter, it’s artists like Richard, whose music cannot be easily packaged or defined, that fall victim to the stagnant framework. But on Second Line, she’s choosing to do it the NOLA way, making her own rhythms and moving at her own pace.
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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.
Dawn Richard - Second Line: An Electro Revival Music Album Reviews Dawn Richard - Second Line: An Electro Revival Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, May 10, 2021 Rating: 5

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