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H.E.R. > Hip Hop & Black
14/03/2018 - Köln - Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld
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It's been an incredible year and a half forH.E.R. In that time span and over two remarkable EPs, the enigmaticsinger/songwriter has established herself as one of modern R&B's mostfascinating new voices—an artist with a keen skill for channeling the pain andecstasy of life through a variety of sonic moods. "I've learned a lotabout myself, but it's still surreal to me," H.E.R. reflects whendiscussing her career trajectory. "I wrote these songs during a dark time,so selling out shows has blown my mind."

And just a little over a year since therelease of the breakthrough H.E.R. Volume 1—and four months since itsintriguing follow-up H.E.R. Volume 2—H.E.R. has compiled both releasesfor the deluxe release H.E.R., featuring six new and previouslyunreleased songs. Under the veil of anonymity, the collection of music is thedefinitive reflection of H.E.R.'s singular vision, and it makes for anexcellent introduction to her work; and for those familiar and returning, therelease offers a thrilling recontextualization of her impressive career thusfar. Along with the accolade of being noted one of the top ten albums of 2017by the Associated Press.

Volume 1 was created over the course of four years from 15-18 years old. "I alwaysused to say that I'd never be the girl who fell for the wrong guy or ended upbeing in a lot of situations that most females end up in—bad relationships orwhatever," she says. "Growing up, though, I ended up being thatgirl—her. That's why I named the project ‘H.E.R.’ I realized that I needed tobe super honest, and that's how the music came out the way it did. I was forcedto be honest and comfortable with myself and my vulnerabilities. I felt like Iwas alone in my situations, but when I dropped the project, I realized that alot of women go through what I went through.

Volume 2 came together soon afterwards, comprised of songs written both previously toand after the release of Volume 1. "Volume 1 was very dark,but Volume 2 is a little brighter," H.E.R. specifies on thedifferences between the projects, further emphasizing that H.E.R.'s newsongs came about during the recording sessions for Volume 2. "Ididn't feel like they necessarily matched with the vibe—it was anothermood," she explains. "Some of them I wrote in London, and I thoughtthey were a little different than the rest—but they were very good, expressivesongs, so I wanted to drop them separately."

And the new songs on H.E.R. indeedexpand H.E.R.'s sonic and emotional palette, while staying true to the intimacythat's already garnered so much adoration and acclaim. There's the dusky andacoustic-tinged Daniel Caesar duet "Best Part," the moody crawl of"Free," and "Let Me In," a woozy slice of R&B withpleasing vocal samples buried in the mix, below H.E.R.'s own expressive voice.

"I felt very free to do a funky, groovy,cookout-music type vibe," H.E.R. enthuses when discussing "Let MeIn." "It shows the musical, old-school-influenced side of me. It'sabout how some people can be very guarded and closed off in relationships, andhow you have to reassure them that you just want them to feel safe and protecttheir heart—not hurt them. Some people just close their mind, and you wonder,'Is it someone else? Is it me?' But they're scared to love. So the song isabout me asking this guy to let me in." The anxious, Timberland-esquemelodic storm of "2" explores a different subject matter: "It'sa revenge song," she says with a laugh. "The song is really dark, adifferent perspective that people don't really talk about—the idea that insteadof crying over somebody that you found out was cheating on you, you ended upcheating back."

Paired with the time-tested cuts of her previous releases, the new songs on H.E.R.offer a tantalizing look at what's to come from H.E.R. while giving awindow into an artist's exploratory creative process. "Musically, I haveto stay true to myself," she states when looking toward the future."It's easy to get attention and make music to please an audience insteadof being honest. The real stuff is what people really want, though—the rawstuff. My sound is starting to shift, and I haven't been afraid to try newthings because the people that love the music have bought into me and who I am.I have the freedom to do whatever I want musically, and I'm super grateful forthat. If you're always true to yourself, they're gonna love it."

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