H.E.R. - Back of My Mind Music Album Reviews

H.E.R. - Back of My Mind Music Album Reviews
The long-awaited debut from the lauded singer and guitarist is a fine showcase of her immense talent, though the constant balladeering doesn’t really capture what she does best.

The best song on Back of My Mind, H.E.R.’s debut full-length, is the first one. On “We Made It,” over a glimmering sample moving in reverse, the singer and guitarist nimbly hits swirls of falsetto notes, sing-songy raps, and full-on wails—the only time she does so on the album. There’s a gnarly guitar solo that she’s become known for at her many award-show performances, references to eating in fine-dining establishments in Paris, and a pretty piano outro. Back of My Mind never hits the triumphant high of its opener again. At 21 tracks, the album is too long, musically uneven, and leans on unnecessary guest appearances. But it also has moments of real promise, when H.E.R.—the four-time Grammy-award winner born Gabriella Wilson who’s been pitched to audiences for years now as a dynamic, mysterious talent—lives up to the hype.

One of those moments is on “Damage,” which thoughtfully incorporates a late-career Herb Alpert sample (one Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fans might recall) by adding in plucks of piano, thudding drums, and a big low end. With the help of songwriter Ant Clemons, H.E.R.’s delicate lilt folds in beautifully with the beat as she warns a lover to be careful with her heart. Its warm, ’80s-inspired production and schmaltzy lyrics sound like something you’d heard on a late-night slow jams radio show.

Ballads were a staple of H.E.R.’s initial five EPs, and she again uses them frequently on Back of My Mind, for better or worse. Nearly all of them are simple and pretty, like “Mean It,” a gentle and poignant acoustic song with a chorus that gets more lodged in your chest each time H.E.R. recites it. But by the time you get to “Exhausted,” another ballad that relies solely on her voice and one layer of instrumentation, you wish H.E.R. would break out of her sleepy hum and shoot for something more spirited.

Rather than doing that, she tries to switch things up through collaboration, which leads to mixed results. The Lil Baby feature on “Find a Way,” for example, sounds like a Lil Baby song, not a H.E.R. song, with its flavorless trap beat and stock lyrics. The title track, meanwhile, is more successful, as she and Ty Dolla $ign’s sweet spots overlap, creating a smooth back and forth. Elsewhere DJ Khaled and, disappointingly, Chris Brown, show up and don’t contribute anything to make the record feel more dynamic.

H.E.R. seemingly has the heavy, heartstruck ballads built for streaming playlists down, but there seems like there’s already a limit on where she’s willing to go within a song. The choices she makes—from the glossy R&B production to favoring vocal riffing over a good hook—feel altogether safe, like she’s protecting a legacy she was born into. What new wrinkles could she incorporate into her sound? Listening to Back of My Mind, it’s hard to tell, but the answer may lie in a song like “We Made It”—or its sonic opposite, the earthy, “Hold On.” Its soulful DNA feels endearingly familiar—so much so that I had to make sure it wasn’t a cover—and, paired with its live instrumentation, gives H.E.R. a different sort of backdrop to work with. She’s searching for more corners to place her voice in, singing up and down with the notes of her guitar. She harmonizes as the track fades out, conjuring an image of her standing on stage in the spotlight just before its cut. The stage is where H.E.R. shines—and it’s the closest the album comes to capturing H.E.R. at her greatest.
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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.
H.E.R. - Back of My Mind Music Album Reviews H.E.R. - Back of My Mind Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on June 30, 2021 Rating: 5


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