Alternative R&B artist SZA returns with an intriguing, major label debut, ‘Ctrl.’
Up-and-coming, alternative R&B artist SZA makes her return with Ctrl, her proper, major label debut. The 26-year old released Z in 2014, suggesting she was an artist to watch. On, Ctrl, she showcases incredible artistry.
On “Supermodel,” SZA sings distinctively, with feistiness. Undoubtedly pissed off, she informs him she’s taking control and leaving. She plays the role of an angry, heartbroken, woman scorned exceptionally well. Following the relatively spare, subtly produced opener, “Love Galore” maintains coolness, but also finds SZA writing off men. Even so, he hollas at her nonetheless, with the sole intent of having sex. That’s where Travis Scott comes into play. All in all, “Love Galore” packs a punch.
“Doves in the Wind”
“Doves in the Wind,” packs the biggest punch of Ctrl, focusing on pussy. Yes, literally. SZA seems to be disgusted by shallowness, asserting there’s more to a relationship and life than sex. Kendrick Lamar expounds on the P-power, uttering the word at least 17 times. SZA is clearly hurt on “Drew Barrymore,” where her ex is with someone else. She questions her worth seeing him with another woman. She’s at her worst on the second verse, apologizing for her ‘shortcomings.’
On “Prom” SZA is introspective, questioning the success of her transition into adulthood. Interestingly, “Prom” also has a sensual edge, further amplified by the danceable groove and select lyrics. “Prom” may have its share of innuendo, but “The Weekend” thrives off its sensual vibes. The problem is, SZA’s man is a man about town. Her man drama is our pleasure on the enjoyable slow jam. The brief “Go Gina” provides listeners with pop cultural savviness and clever wordplay.
“Garden (Say It Like Dat)”
SZA questions her worth once more on “Garden (Say It Like Dat).” She spends the second verse focused on insecurities – specifically about her butt. Ultimately, she believes her man loves her for the way that she is. She slays on the soulfully-sampled “Broken Clocks,” a continuation of HIS love for her. While he still loves her, she’s moved on.
On “Anything,” SZA reflects on participating in smarter love. However, she’s in a state of confusion. She’s joined by James Fauntleroy on “Wavy (Interlude),” before desiring normalcy on the soulful, reflective “Normal Girl.” She exhibits a particularly lovely vocal tone on penultimate number “Pretty Little Birds,” among the most mysterious and soulful joints of Ctrl. Isaiah Rashad assists, pop-rapping on the third and verse and outro. The production is exquisite, incorporating hip-hop, jazz, and soul elements. “20 Something” concludes reflectively as she questions age, relationship status, and life in general. She captures the millennial spirit superbly.
So, how does Ctrl stack up? In an age where R&B struggles to find relevancy, SZA is quite relevant. Ctrl is a well assembled urban contemporary album that’s incredible relatable to its listeners. Amazingly, she balances simplicity and complexity to create one of the best albums of 2017. All in all, she nails it.
NOTE: If you’d like to read the full-fledged analysis of Ctrl, check out SZA, Ctrl | Album Review, published on The Musical Hype on June 24, 2017.
Gems: “Love Galore,” “Doves in the Wind,” “Drew Barrymore,” “Broken Clocks” & “Pretty Little Birds”