Today (Jan. 15) is a significant release day in the R&B world; it marks the release of two highly anticipated albums, Beautiful by the late great Teena Marie and Goldenheart by the always-innovative Dawn Richard. Both releases are sure to find success with the support of their legions of fans.
Beautiful, Teena Marie
It’s been a bit over two years since the world lost the ivory queen of soul Teena Marie. At the time of her death, she was working on and finished her 14th studio project at her Pasadena, California home studio; everything was finished except the mixing of the tracks. The project has now become a posthumous project completed by her daughter Alia Rose, and will be a gift for fans who’ll appreciate taking a piece of Teena’s legacy in the package of music.
The nostalgic first single “Luv Letter” gives us that funky swing Teena famously delivered. Her daughter Alia assisted her mother on three of the album’s tracks: “Rare Breed,” “Beautiful,” and “Give Me Your Love,” a Curtis Mayfield cover. She lent her pen to co-write “Sweet Tooth” and “Beautiful.” When it comes to lyrics, the project eerily foretells of death. On the song “Rare Breed,” Teena sings “I could say I had the world here in my hands and not believe/That angels sat beside me to protect my very dreams.” On the tune “The Long Play,” the voice of a radio DJ says, “broadcasting to you from a heavenly station.” “If you listen to the lyrics, it’s almost as if she was making that transition to the spiritual world as the record was being made, which is incredible,” says Alia. “It’s like we’re going on this journey with her.”
Co-produced Doug Grigsby, Beautiful will preserve Teena Marie’s legacy as an R&B great.
Goldenheart, Dawn Richard (BUY NOW)
Finally, Dawn Richard is a solidified solo artist; she now has the full-length solo-album to back it up, so it’s safe to distance your association of her with being in a group. Goldenheart is the first of an epic trilogy of albums, all poised to represent the beauty in the battles of life, and the passion it takes to overcome and win them. BlackHeart and RedemptionHeart will follow up in the series.
“It’s a journey of a message,” Dawn told Singersroom about her first solo album Goldenheart. “You look at the story of Joan of Arc and what she was, that’s more religious and it was a battle for her, but it’s more the story of her having a message that she felt she needed to carry through, that she went about it by any means necessary, and it was almost borderline madness; she didn’t know if she was crazy, or if she really did have a message.
She continued: “To me, that’s the story of passion; you’re fighting for something beyond what you can even explain to people. And the only way to explain it is by saying, “I have something that I have to teach you, and I’m not retreating until you understand that this is important. And that’s exactly what this message is with this album, from the lyrical content, to the visual, to the dance artistry of it all. We have a message, it’s plain and simple: you have to fight for your passion, and you have to fight for your love, but we’re just doing it in a way that’s not preachy. We’re just doing it in a dope way that’s like an average, regular album, but we wanted to do it in a slick way that has you wanting more. It wasn’t like, preaching to you “you have to do this,” it’s more like yo, when you fighting in a battle, it’s ok to fight as long as you know that you’re the survivor you can win the battle. And that’s the battle with love, that’s the battle with this music industry, it’s whatever you choose it to be. But for me, it was my journey in the industry.”
And indeed, there’s something for everyone on Goldenheart. You have your uptempo dance tunes (“Northern Lights,” “Riot”), your slow jams (“Tug of War,” “Frequency”), your epic ballads (“Warfaire, “”), and everything in between. Richard even samples “Claire de Lune,” the classical piece by French composer Claude Debussy, turning it into the album’s title track cool-down finale.
Both Beautiful and Goldenheart are available now in hard and digital copies. Which album are you picking up?