By: Melissa Berne
An urban talent I didn’t know about, Jhene Aiko joins the ranks with the likes of JoJo being a talented songstress hidden not in complete obscurity but in cult circles; in fact, I only found out about her when I got sent her song, “3:16AM.” Listen below.
Her voice intrigued me, so I looked up her other music. It turns out Jhene Aiko released a mixtape last year entitled Sailing Souls. In the midst of my current obsession with Frank Ocean’s Channel ORANGE, I instantly gained another obsession. I decided I would review the mixtape even though it was released last year because, well, it’s just that good. It’s important to share uniqueness in this day in age when almost every popular song that’s on the radio sounds the same: Sailing Souls sets free as its audacious nature and vulnerability complement each other like a boat floating on waves.
She’s no powerhouse vocalist and she never explores the full range in her voice; however, the content and the melisma she adds in her songs make them soulful nonetheless. This stretching of the notes can be heard in “You vs. Them,” a hauntingly beautiful song about the apprehension of getting into a relationship, of which, she may be referring to a person or God.
Where the lack of vocal range is present, the range of emotion compensates. In “Do Better Blues,” she sings about the fearful truth to an ex, saying she is probably NOT better off without him.
Every bold R&B record needs a crazy, sexy, cool song, no? “Higher” further takes us into Aiko’s palette with suggestive lyrics like, “Break me down/Roll me up/Boy I can be your pipe dream” Her statement about smoking weed in an earlier song, “My Mine,” and then later using it as a metaphor for love in this song is an interesting way to shift interpretations on the matter.
Going back to her single, “3:16AM,” it’s suppose to be a single from her upcoming album, Souled Out. With Jhene’s bold lyrical content and soft-toned voice she is an artist to watch out for.