Monday 28 January 2013

Dawn Richard - Goldenheart

As the second track of ‘Goldenheart’ claims, this marks the return of a queen.  Dawn Richard may not be a well-known name in the UK, but her career in the industry began when she auditioned for MTV’s ‘Making The Band’ way back in 2005.  This led her to a spot in Danity Kane and, later, P Diddy’s ‘Diddy-Dirty Money’ collective.  ‘Goldenheart’ is part of a planned trilogy of albums and follows last year’s ‘Armor On’.

Richard has a varied musical palette, taking inspiration from pop, RnB, hip-hop, dubstep and dance music.  Yet these influences combine in a record that fizzes, bubbles and defies expectation.  Melodies form and dissipate, beats collide and crack in electronic shudders, drones bloom into hook-laden choruses.  Pretty Wicked Things, for example, builds upon its pop hooks before crashing and burning in the fires of dubstep.  Riot begins as a Chris Brown track, before dropping into a rave chorus.  Pop sensibilities are at the core of ‘Goldenheart’, but just as one melody takes hold, the production shifts and evolves in a new direction.

This is an intense listen though.  The tracks moodily blur from one to the next, creating an album that demands to be listened to in full despite each tracks’ singular appeal.  And this is a passionate, almost aggressive album.  Riot begins with the lyric “let’s start a war”, whilst the sultry Frequency gives Rihanna a run for her money (“I want you to hear the way you make me feel when you turn me on”), juxtaposed with ballad Warfaire (sic).  ‘Goldenheart’ depicts a whirlwind romance, ending in the nostalgic title track that bravely samples Debussy’s Clair de Lune.

This isn’t quite a perfect vision.  The spoken sections are preaching to an uninterested audience and at fifteen tracks long this is a lengthy album, tailing off towards the end.  But the material is dense, with plenty of production wizardry to keep you listening throughout.  Richard’s Keri Hilson-esque voice too, subtly processed with vocoder, has enough variety of character to hold your attention.

Richard may be working with typical tropes and genres, but with ‘Goldenheart’ they are subverted and made fresh.  Pop-RnB has been squeezed through a production sieve, its essence pushed through the other side to reach a new standard.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* Pretty Wicked Things
* Frequency
* Goldenheart

Listen: 'Goldenheart' is available now.