A little over ten years ago, we were introduced to five ambitious young women all with the dream of being a part of the biggest girl group since Destiny’s Child. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition as two years in the band which we come to know as Danity Kane would dissolve in front of our own eyes on their hit show Making The Band. Shortly after four of the five girls fell into obscurity and the group’s lead singer Dawn Richard went on to perform as a member of Diddy’s short-lived vanity project Diddy-Dirty Money and dropped the progressive R&B/Hip-Hop album ‘Last Train to Paris’. It wasn’t until 2012 that Richard really got to shine, stepping out on her own with the release of the Extended-Play ‘Armor On’ which was the introduction to the ‘Heart’ trilogy series which saw the singer explore new avenues in music particularly the electronic realms.
Now going by D∆WN, the New Orleans native presents us with the final installment in the trilogy with ‘Redemption’. Like it’s predecessors, ‘Redemption’ sees the singer closely collaborating with EDM Super-Producer Machinedrum, who produced the non-singles ‘Wake Up‘ and ‘Not Above That. On its surface, ‘Redemption’ packs 15 performance ready tracks by one of indie music’s most electrifying performers. Cuts like ‘Renegades’ sees the singer getting into her element with the double meaning to her lyrics asking her lover to run away with her at the same time telling the listener to defy all stereotypes about themselves. The bulk of the album follows suit with the choppy beats of Machinedrum many of which sound like they could be outtakes from the producer’s recent album ‘Human Energy’.
On the track ‘Black Crimes’ produced by Noisecastle III (responsible for the singer’s hit Blackheart album) touches on the current genocide against Black Americans, lyrics like ‘They don’t realize//This love is murder//Bullets, they die’ speak heavily on the love of Black culture but the apparent distaste for Black Lives. This is perhaps the first time the singer reached into subject matters that revolved around current events. ‘Love Under Lights’ sees the singer channel themes of sexual ambiguity with the opening verse talking about her flirting with a woman rocking a Led Zepplin shirt and a fan of Drake while Richard is a fan of King Kendrick. Whereas the second verse sees her flirting with a dude about ‘6 something’ looking for ‘temporary loving’.
But the album’s true highlights are seen when the singer revisits her New Orleans roots on cuts like ‘LA’ featuring Trombone Shorty and my personal favorite ‘Vines’ featuring PJ Morton of Maroon 5. The former starts off with an urban vibe before breaking out into a ‘free-jazz’ second half with Trombone Shorty blaring his Trombone while the latter is possibly the most R&B record the singer has created since 2012’s ‘SMFU’.
The album’s only true downfall is its consistency through, my first listen it was hard to tell when one song ended and the other began, that could be due to the overuse of Machinedrum’s production however her previous outings ‘Goldenheart’ (2013) produced entirely by Drewski and ‘Blackheart'(2015) produced entirely by Noisecastle III had more variety in its offerings whereas ‘Redemption’ sounds like half of the tracks were intended for Machinedrum’s ‘Human Energy’.
Overall the album is a fun escape from the mundane reality of everyday life with over half the albums tracks are performance ready and will be a treat to see when the singer hits the road again to perform the album.
Purchase ‘Redemption’ here.