At long last an album that has the true makings of audio gold. This album possesses the key elements that are indicative of a work of art. From soulful ballads to up-tempo pop tracks that together display an incredible range of vocal talent unlike her previous works.
Typically I don’t enjoy the high pop/commercial tracks that Beyonce is known for. However, it appears that she really explored her musical sound and music theory in general on ‘4.’
It’s worth noting that this album embodies a sound that would be most appreciated by lovers, music lovers, and those who live life and all it has to offer. With that in mind and understanding that I will be jumping around on the album, we begin with 1+1, a slow tempo, melodic track that exhibits soulful dressings over a soft keyed piano. Beyonce throw’s you for a loop with her unconventional high noted endings on each sentence and a beautiful guitar riff at the closing of the song. She understands that she has to come “out-the-gate” strong and represent to us what direction this album is headed. “1+1” begins our journey off on a positive note.
We then move to “Best Thing I never Had,” her second single off ‘4.’ Not much to say about this that you don’t already know. This is a track everyone can relate to and represents Bey’s signature style.
Staying true to love, she delivers Countdown to us. This fast-paced, rhythmic banger drives us to lover’s land with Bey at the helm in a way only she can do. This is an ode to that special someone in her life (you already know who) and encourages those in a strong relationship to keep on truckin’.
Next stop on this album is “Dance For You” (Bonus Track). This a perfect follow up as Beyonce show’s her appreciation to her man by propositioning him as his private dancer (and who the hell would deny her?). More than that, this is true to modern R&B with beautifully drawn harmonic bliss.
“Till The End Of Time” seems like a detour on this trip but I assure you it’s a scheduled stop. Once again her brilliant vocals triumph in unison with a blaring trumpet behind. Her gritty lyrics transform you into a place reminiscent of “Countdown” and “Dance For You” as she promises to, “love you til’ the End Of Time.”
Speaking to a natural occurrence in everyday life and relationships, “I Care” focuses on males and our ability to shut out our emotions. Well guys, Bey is telling us that even though we act like we don’t, it’s all good because she does. As a special treat, Bey harmonizes her powerful vocals with a high-pitched electric guitar in the valley after the climax.
My personal favorite track off the album is “I Miss You.” This is the natural follow-up to “I Care” for obvious reasons. Forgetting all else, Beyonce really exposes herself here to the point of mature vulnerability. She isn’t afraid to lay her feelings bare and put her goddess-like qualities to the wayside to address her heart. This is a very short track (just under three minutes) with a high snare and a fast beating drum with production done by Beyonce and Shea Taylor (known for working with artist such as Ne-Yo and Chris Brown among others). It sounds very unconventional yet it pleases the ear strongly. The lyrics are so human and so raw that you forget that it’s Beyonce saying them as nostalgia kicks in. Another aspect of the construction that I really enjoyed was the vocal harmonies and arrangements she chose. Her vocals build as the song does and as this happens, her low key baritone and higher tenor do a gentle dance with one another. It is worth noting that Frank Ocean, best known for his single “Novacane,” helped co-write this ballad. Ocean himself commented, “This is the room I am working in this day. Not to brag but man, this is surreal. Like, she is singing my songs. If time were to stop right now, the past couple weeks would be near the top of the highlight reel for my short time on earth,” as taken from his twitter posts while recording the song with Beyonce. For me it is truly the highlight of the album.
“I was Here” is Bey’s way of telling the world she exists, as if we haven’t taken notice. Not much to say about this track. It keeps you in tune with the general theme of the album; life.
We’ve taken some stops on this trip out of order, but for good reason. “Love On Top,” is a throwback track reminiscent of late 70’s early 80’s pop with a touch of jazz. Outstanding display at the climax of this song by Bey. I won’t give too much away though.
If you haven’t heard “Party,” than when you decide to get up from under whatever rock you’ve been under, perhaps you’ll take notice. Bey and Andre 3000 did their thing. Nothing more to say!
“Rather Die Young” again puts us back on track with the lover’s quest. It must be said that Beyonce does her signature routine here, but the difference is that she lays it over an R&B/Jazz bed.
There are special Bonus Tracks that you will need to buy the album to enjoy. Overall, this album pleases. Personally, I knew Beyonce would have a “good” album but honestly wasn’t expecting a Great album. The poetic dressing coupled with the musical compositions simply put, liberate the soul and please the ear all at once.