OKP Premiere: Sola Reign Spins Dark Soul On New 'About A Boy' [EP Stream]
Press play on Sola Reign's new About A Boy EP and what you hear is not an opening, but rather closure. Opening track "Genesis" is anything but; fearful strings begin to unravel and darkness falls quickly over its recorded landscape--Reign sings a lament for her skin's melanin and it becomes the very reason for the heartache and loss that burns her inside. This is a record that sets forth from the end of love gone wrong. Reign has cut all ties and is ready, it seems, to drown.
The fall never stops. The waters only deepen. Reign's breathy, earnest delivery on "Open Letter" recalls the rasp of R&B singers twice her age and is a beautiful introduction to an album that, dark and wounded as it may be, is still a joy to listen to. Its joy is owed to the incredible vocals found on every track. Yes, About A Boy is a study in top-notch dark/future R&B production, but after every listen it's that melodic yearning--Reign's human presence--that lingers. Lyrically, the Toronto songwriter bucks the blurry-filtered #MOOD trend that so often obfuscates future-R&B's artists; her meanings are clear--we're well aware of what hurts. As "Boudoir" unwinds its stuttered-trap tale, Reign openly aches for her ex-lover: "Why don't you come to my place and hold me / I want to feel your hands down my spine."
Each track passes and the watery atmosphere of About A Boy grows colder and more compressed. "Nostalgia/Krystal's Meth" recalls the darker ballad cuts of Kendrick Lamar's Section.80, its oscillating synth chords and trap hi-hats stitched together so tight that somewhere Sango is sweating. The track samples The Pharcyde's "Runnin" in a barely-there fashion--in fact, familiar hip-hop and R&B samples appear on almost every cut on the EP. But rather than act as a foil to Reign's message, 'Cyde's lines are more fleeting. They pass like murky headlights on a two-lane highway late at night.
It would be easy to catalog an EP like About A Boy away for future bedroom mixtape use, to compare her to the likes of FKA Twigs and move on from there. It's all here. The ideal blend of slithering guitars, vocal reverb, trap clicks and massive bass can be found on just about every track. But if Reign is taking a page out of the book of Twigs and others like her, she's also dipping her hands in ink and making her own mark. Listen to the advance stream of About A Boy in its entirety below, and get ready to hear a great many good things from Sola Reign in the future. Coming up for air is overrated.