Alina Baraz, It Was Divine, Album Review

Nearly five years ago, Alina Baraz appeared out-of-nowhere. Pairing up with electronica producer Galimatias for the joint project, Urban Flora, the two created something fresh that the soundscape of the genre needed. Years later Alina branched out, suddenly starring in her own solo confessional. The 2018 EP The Color Of You marked a departure to the renowned sound of her work with Galimatias, and into a modernized approach to a mainstream sound with a following that stuck by her side. The unexpected transition translated into the songstress’ craft, shining light to a well-developed presence that can hold her own.

The timeline of events strategically led up to the moment everyone was waiting for: the full-length debut album It Was Divine. This time around the method to the madness could’ve gone either way. Rather it was reviving the sounds from Urban Flora or going completely mainstream, Alina found a happy medium that is as pleasant as the title suggests. Without completely selling out per say, or going too far into deep end of generic trap-soul, Baraz mirrors what made her interesting in the first place with an accessible sound that is fitting for finding her place into the current class of R&B. Approaching the tenderness of the awareness of self-love after a breakup, Baraz focuses on the delicacy of moving forward and highlights it with the lustrous effects of her vocal abilities.

Entering the album, listeners are introduced to the ambitious feelings that Baraz presents on opener “My Whole Life”. With the shining capabilities of simplicity, Baraz challenges the perspective with what leads up following the belief of what happens when you mistaken what you thought with what you hoped. Navigating into the timeline of her relationship, Alina reassures that each track is important to the understanding of where all the crossroads lead to. Assisted with 6LACK, “Morocco” is Alina still on a high of being a hopeless romantic with a killer bassline inspired by Tame Impala. The follow up “Frank” is the songstress staring into her own reflection with subtle vocal effects that hits home to her previous work. “Endlessly”, “Gimme The Wheel”, “Off The Grid”, “More Than Enough”, and “To Me” continue a plot that is stretched out longer than it should be. Experimenting with the sudden crash and burn, “To Me” picks up the pace as she confronts the reality of a misconstrued relationship and finally seeking the strength that she backs up with vocals that help persuade the message she’s sending.

With a mellow sound that stands still at a surface level throughout the project, each track continues to highlight her escape into seeking a self-awakening that is continuously sought out with a delicate approach. It’s spacious yet repetitive and again, stretched out longer than it should be but that’s the reality of life. At the halfway point the album finds its saving grace, a Nas feature that boosts Alina’s credibility even though she shines on her own. Is the project creative, genre-shifting, or unlike anyone has ever heard? Not quite. Is it great background music for self-healing? Yes, yes, it is, and that's an accomplishment considering the intention of the project was to be crafted as delicate as it can be.

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