You Don’t Need to “Sang” to Deliver R&B. Kehlani’s Proves This In Her Second Studio Album “It Was All Good Until It Wasn’t”
The music industry is in an extremely weird place right now, but it doesn’t stop money from being made or music from being released. In a traditional music industry marketing model, we’re used to seeing a few singles from our favorite artist released, along with a few visuals, an album, and a tour. Obviously things have changed, along with the lack of tours right now, but it doesn’t stop singer-songwriter Kehlani from delivering exactly what we need right now R&B.
When it comes to R&B one thing comes to mind: vocals. We want to hear unachievable belts and runs only the church choir could top, but Kehlani doesn’t make it the main focus in her music. Of course, she can sing and we’ve heard the improvement from her first mixtape “You Should Be Here” to her latest release “It Was Good Until It Wasn’t” but it doesn’t feature notably exquisite vocals and guess what? That’s fine.
There’s a huge misconception in the R&B realm that you’re not truly a singer unless your range is wider than birthing hips and your vocal ability is completely unmatched, but I’m happy to tell you that’s not the case. When it comes to singing and singing R&B the vocal delivery and emotional related in the lyrics is what matters. In all, not many of us can sing anyway, so who are we to judge in regards to vocal talent?
Kehlani’s second studio album sits at 15 songs long with a handful of features ranging from crowd favorites Tory Lanez and Jhene Aiko to musical genius James Blake and newcomers Masego and Lucky Daye. She spends a lot of time in the album focusing on delivery and lyrism rather than attempting to “sang” you to death.
“Toxic” kicks off the project as a pre-released single that details her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. As you’re listening, you can truly appreciate her storytelling ability. She sings about her sex life, the Don Julio that had her sprung, circling back into the toxic relationship that she eventually let go.
“Can I” featuring Tory Lanez and “Change Your Life” featuring Jhene Aiko reveal themselves as standout tracks on the project. The carefully chosen features complement the melody of the song and note that both artists aren’t known for “over-singing” creating the perfect balance as a collaboration. The adlibs in both provide the “sanging” you’re looking for, but if you’re a true lover of music, the truth is in the lyrics.
The project goes on to provide a range of emotions. An epic sexcapade occurs in “Water” and an instrumental feature takes the lead in “Hate The Club.” Masego does what he does best on the track, providing a saxophone additive, but what makes this track hit the hardest is how easy it is to relate. We’ve all been to the club and drank just a little bit more to ease the tension between you and that person you really didn’t want to see, but wanted to.
James Blake’s appearance on the project gives it a touch of genius. His product value easily makes “Grieving” one of the easiest songs to listen to on the project as Kehlani details how she needs space throughout the track.
To end, Kehlani gives tribute to the late Lexii Alijai who passed away earlier this year. The rap outro adds the diversity you were looking for in the R&B project, as it holds a place in her heart.
In all, it’s clear that you don’t have to display an outrageous vocal performance to say that R&B is not dead. Kehlani’s songwriting and delivery play a monumental role in her career while allowing the music to speak for itself. In a time like this, a softer album that brings us through every romantic and platonic relationship shift is needed as it was all good until it wasn’t.