- Available on:
- Decon Records
Break Of Dawn
[Decon Records; 10/25/2011]
Neo-soul singer-songwriter Goapele’s last studio album may have been titled Change It All (2005) but it’s her latest effort, Break Of Dawn, released this week on Decon Records, that finds her in a completely different place personally and musically.
The Oakland-native’s fourth full-length release, after a six-year hiatus, seems to be born from change, in fact. In the interim, she became a parent and lost a parent—her father Douglas Mohlabane, an exiled South African political activist who fought against apartheid and was instrumental in the singer’s musical upbringing.
Turmoil (“Undertow”), loss (“Pieces”) and grief (“Tears In My Pillow”) are major themes in the LP, but it isn’t a tearjerker. The nine-track release begins with the growly lead single “Play,” a sultry track with minimal, Sade-like production by Oakland-based duo Teddy Thunderbolt & Dan Electric. As we noted last week, reggae-rap duo Los Rakas remixed the track but there are no hip-hop guest appearances within Break itself, in contrast to both past albums Even Closer (2002) and Change It All. Goapele delves deeper to a more subdued place rooted in the past on this album. The ‘70s figure heavily in bluesy funk of “Money” and the soul and gospel-inflected “Tears On My Pillow” and “Hush.” The potency of Goapele’s gorgeous dulcet voice comes alive on the twinkling, lullaby-like track. But just as her name means “to move forward,” by the titular track, a near-plea to carpe diem, and the joyous electro backbeat catharsis “Right Here,” Goapele has resolved to soldier on.
Clocking in at a lean 35 minutes, Break feels like a condensed journal of lessons and experiences culled from the period. But more importantly, Break also feels Goapele’s breakthrough.
Watch “Play” by Goapele: