D∆WN’s ‘Redemption Heart’: Album Review

Rachel Sonis | November 18, 2016 8:45 am
Over two albums, D∆WN (real name Dawn Richard) has managed to skillfully deconstruct what we know about pop music. She stands on a plane that she’s built entirely by herself, collaborating with producer pioneers like Kingdom and Machinedrum, making regal fashion films and blending various genres (from UK drum and bass to R&B to Afrofuturism) to create a sound that’s uniquely her own. Now as she presents her third LP, the last installment of her deeply personal trilogy, it’s clear that her relentless individualism has set her free.

Redemption Heart  (out today, ) opens with bird chirps and a twinkling synth-laden melody. The album, off the bat, aims for hazy club euphoria, a theme that pulses throughout the work. It’s not without a message, though; the kaleidoscopic “Love Under The Lights” blasts sexual norms into smithereens, while soaring numbers like “Renegades” and “Lazurus” speak of desire and self-actualization.

But don’t box Richard into the EDM bubble just yet, for the album has completely rid itself of categories. Elsewhere, the songbird experiments with sparse blues rock (“Voyeur”), revels in frenetic ’90s house (“Black Crimes”) and explores free-jazz with Trombone Shorty (“LA”). But the song that really sticks is “Voices,” a clobbering anthem that finds the singer repeating “I put a brave face on” like a hymn. How reassuring it is to see someone work so tirelessly to create and challenge us, despite such a divisive time in human history. How revelatory. How inspiring. Here, DAWN commands herself to never look back. Only forward.

Idolator Score: 4/5

Rachel Sonis

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