Friday, February 24, 2017

Jamila Woods -- HEAVN

I'm a little embarrassed that it's taken me so long to write a review of my favorite album of 2016. But HEAVN is such an overwhelming experience that it takes a while to process. In a word, it's gorgeous.

I mean this in every aspect of the album: the cover art, the lyrics, the music, the production. I listened to it the first time on my crappy iPhone speakers and was overwhelmed. (While I imagine it's best enjoyed on vinyl with a serious stereo setup, I highly recommend experiencing this album -- yes, all the way through -- with headphones.) 

So what's an album like this doing on an Americana blog? (And I'll be reposting this one to No Depression.) What's more American than racism? Than protest? Than isolation for not fitting an extremely narrow definition of "normal"? Than solidarity with other marginalized people? Than struggling with depression and body image because advertising -- our society's moral messaging -- tells us we're wrong so we can buy things to make us right? And what's more American than music by black people? 

To be sure, there are certain songs on this album that I cannot relate to on fundamental levels. And my struggle to respond to and acknowledge that helps explain my delay in writing about HVN. Woods treats all of her songs with such warmth that you can't help being pulled into them, immersed in the majesty of these songs and set on fire by the love and passion that spills through every single person's performance on this album. This is an album that will make you feel heard, hurt, curious, and proud, no matter who you are. 

In a word, it's gorgeous.

Jamila Woods -- Official, Stream on Soundcloud [The playlist seems to have been taken down, but maybe it'll come back]

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