In her feature interview with The Floor, Taliwhoah spoke about avoiding being boxed in: “I rarely go into a session and think I want to make this kind of track or that I have to make something that sounds like a song that did well.” She is denouncing the idea that she has to fit into a mold; demanding freedom instead.
Genre-bending has increasingly become commonplace again in the last few years with a lot of artists not only getting critical acclaim, but mainstream recognition from their genre-fluid albums (most notably SZA’s Ctrl). But the idea of amalgamating different musical elements to create new ones is not new. RnB for instance, which is currently having a resurgence of its own, is born of electric blues, funk, soul and gospel and has certainly borrowed from many other genres. So while genre-bending can be partly reduced to the artist’s personal choice, its contribution to the evolution of music should not be understated. With hindsight, what we refer to as a new or refreshing sound might very well be marked as a pivotal point for a completely new genre.
After a tumultuous few months with her managerial body, as chronicled on the artist’s Instagram, Taliwhoah’s much-anticipated album is finally released. The album includes the four tracks from her already out EP, Solar, and eight more unreleased tracks. In line with the theme of otherworldliness we saw from the EP, the singer/songwriter title her upcoming album “Another Dimension.”
On the production side, the album boasts a truly diverse set of sounds. There is a running electronic feel infused with funk elements but they are presented variably on each song. In Want To Be Mine and Motions, it presents as 70s inspired synth-pop with a heavier reliance on synthesisers, and a backing beat simply for enhancement. In Run Along (and parts of Want To Be Mine) in particular, the beat is syncopated with background vocals used creatively to carry the end of one beat to the beginning of another, which slightly waters down the off-beat nature of the sound. Somebody and Sweet Sweet go against the grain and draw inspiration from Afrobeats and Caribbean sounds.
The lyrical content of the album, on the other hand, is pretty similar throughout the project. The singer/songwriter explores (different kinds of) love, and her growing relationship with it and the people involved. There is tenderness to her voice; it carries such an effortless sincerity that makes what she sings about sound entirely believable. And the tracks that were able to seamlessly align the production element with her syrupy vocals had the biggest impact, with my personal favourites being Juice, Love Cycle, Motion, Soul Food and Sweet Sweet, for which she released a visual with a feel-good summertime vibe.
A risk an artist runs with an incredibly genre-bending project is that it might get difficult to create some sort of cohesion. Especially when each track sets out to be different, establishing that feeling of solidity that sets apart an album from a mixtape for instance, gets a little tricky. And in the case of “Another Dimension”, it is not clear whether lyrical content as a running thread is enough to weave the project together. There are a lot of undeniably strong moments, but they were not always sustained through the whole album.
The singer/songwriter is not new to creating projects, but this is her debut album and with that comes a new sense of importance; a need to sort of claim your place in the industry. Irrespective of the flaws, Another Dimensions certainly sees Taliwhoah asserting herself as one-to-look-out-for (if you haven't already been checking for her). I appreciate that she chose to do this through an ambitious project, a much more interesting route instead of purely sticking to her comfort zone. I also appreciate the perfectly placed features as well as the upbeat, and brighter nature of the project, which contrasts her past work. It shows her versatility.
As an artist that has made herself accessible to her fans not only through her music but also her candid social media, it is exciting to watch her grow. And perhaps in line with what it means to be a fan in this current musical climate, her album embodying this growth, is truly what is most important.