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January 21, 2019

Album Review: Blood Orange's "Negro Swan"

Blood Orange "Negro Swan" album cover art
Blood Orange "Negro Swan" album cover art

Title: Negro Swan

Artiste: Blood Orange

Genre: R&B/Soul

Release: August 24


Before Devonte Hynes was known as Blood Orange, he preferred to go by the moniker Lightspeed Champion. Formerly a member of the short-lived dance-punk band Test Icicles, he has lived to be considered among the most impactful British singers, songwriters and composers we have today. His music has been influenced by elements of various genres, including indie rock.

Most might not be familiar with his impressive performance on his previous major releases, 'Freetown Sound,' 'Cupid Delux' and 'Coastal Grooves'. However, if you are aware, then you already know that his latest release is worth your time. 'Negro Swan' comes at a time when R&B/Soul is dominating the airwaves. If you are not listening to it yet, then you better start doing it.

The 16-track LP comprises of the kind of music you want to listen to on a bright sunny afternoon, while catching up with your long-lost friends as they sip margaritas made of fresh ingredients. It kicks off with "Orlando", which soothes listeners into the spectacular fourth studio compilation. It's followed by "Saint", which features the vocals of Aaron Maine, BEA1991, Adam Bainbridge and Ava Raiin. 

Recruited on the album's fourth track "Hope" is Puff Daddy and Tei Shi, who dominate the track as Devonte only does the outro. "Jewellery— one of the tracks that preceded the album — kicks off with a spoken word intro from Janet Mock that embraces the joy of the black person. She is then heard again on the interlude "Family". "Charcoal Baby" is also one of the essential tracks that had earlier dropped before Project did.

After featuring on A$ap Rocky's "Hun43rd" of his latest album 'Testing', it was time for the American rapper to return the favour alongside Project Pat on "Chewing Gum".  Devonte taps Eva Tolkin and Ian Isiah's vocals on "Holy Will," a track that touches on religion. "Dagenham Dream" is a track that references being bullied as a kid. It also features an outro from Janey Mock. We also get to experience the powerful vocals of Georgia Muldrow on "Runnin'".

Steve Lacy, member of The Internet, is featured on "Out of my League," a simple track where both stars exhibit their brilliance on the instrumentation. The album closes out with "Smoke," an acoustic track that is quite hopeful compared to any. What we can gather from 'Negro Swan' is that, despite Devonte Hynes' experimental nature, he manages to keep his latest project simple. Close your eyes and you can almost see exactly what the artiste's about. 


Star rating: 4 out of 5

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