Alina Baraz Breaks Down Debut Album 'It Was Divine'
Alina Baraz has introduced herself before. But never like this.
On Friday, the dreamy voiced R&B singer will release her highly anticipated debut album 'It Was Divine', following over five years of surprise drops, EPs and soul-driven loosies.
Now with 16 tracks fueled by her own personal development, Baraz admits she finally has the room to fully explain herself to listeners. “It’s trial and error. Me trying to navigate my mind, really, through a relationship. But it’s not that simple,” Baraz tells us of the release. “It sounds like it’s about a relationship, but really I’m trying to remind myself of things, simple affirmations.”
The project - from harmonious opener 'My Whole Life' to closing track 'The Beginning' - features an all-star lineup of features, from an effortless verse from hip-hop legend Nas to an entrancing track with longtime collaborator Khalid, and gives Baraz the space, and interludes, she’s always desired to tell her story in full.
“I just want people to listen to it. I never want to tell you what to do with it,” Baraz says. “I want it to be whatever the listener needs it to be.”
We caught up with the 26-year-old LA-based singer over the phone this week for an exclusive track-by-track breakdown of 'It Was Divine'.
Her explanations follow below...
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My Whole Life
“I really want the album listened to in order because I placed it in terms of the relationship. And so I think it describes myself as a person. I’m such an extreme person so this is genuinely what I saw and thought of when I first met this person that I’m talking about. I saw my entire life with them and that’s how I wanted to enter this world, by trying to encapsulate that exact moment.”
Morocco ft. 6LACK
“‘Morocco’ was such a fun session. We were all heavily inspired by Tame Impala. They had legendary baselines that I really wanted [here]. I was super driven by bass at the time.”
“This track is me looking back at myself. I wrote this specific line in the verse -- ‘Show me all that you know, water me and I’ll grow’ -- and I wrote that in my era of Urban Flora. I wanted to revisit that time in my life so it’s really based around that time in my life.”
“Again, it’s just in the timeline of the relationship. I started out so dramatic with this. That’s how I sincerely viewed this person in my life. After listening to the track, I felt like I could hear that I was inspired by D’Angelo’s melodies and I was listening to Radiohead, too. I feel like I can hear them both when I listen back on that song.”
Gimme The Wheel ft. Smino
“I wrote it with one of my close friends Mary and we just had so much wordplay in the song. It was a fun challenge for both of us. Smino just came and killed it with the lyricism, the wordplay, everything was just so in sync with what I was trying to do with the record.”
Off The Grid ft. Khalid
“There’s nothing like working with your friends. He’s one of my favorite people to sing on a track with. There’s something so special when we get to sing at the same time and even just write together in a room.”
More Than Enough
“This is one of the tracks where there’s a duality to it and I’m speaking at the same time that I’m speaking to someone. At least for me personally, I’ve gotten distracted and forgot to remind myself or the person I’m with that they’re enough, they’re exactly what I need. I feel like we forget to nourish what we love and there’s just something about reassurance that hits so deeply.”
Night And Morning
“This one was super story-driven. And it was a real experience that I had with someone. I only knew them in the hours of 12 a.m. to 9 a.m. I just wanted to be as real about it as I could.”
“When I released it [as a single in September], I never was looking long-term. I just knew I had to get it out and looking back on it, it makes so much sense. This song changed my life. I wrote it for myself, I wrote it to get out of something toxic. I needed to hear those words. And so for me that was life-altering.”
“This is a proper interlude and I never really got to play around with interludes and so many intricate details -- outros and intros -- before. This, again, is just a reminder and it [includes] one of my favorite lyrics: ‘I can only meet you as deep as you have met yourself.’”
Who Got Me
“I was having a day where I was almost tired of myself. I was like, ‘I prioritize so many people ahead of myself and sometimes I treat myself like shit.’ It was a real moment, like, ‘I deserve better.’”
Say You Know
“This is a super emotional track. For me, I've never really allowed myself to like go there emotionally. I just always felt like it would be like a burden almost. And I've learned throughout time that like, we come together when there's loss or hurt or pain.”
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Take It Home
“‘Home’ is the key word. That melody that you hear in ‘Take It Home’ is in so many tracks but this is the first track that I wrote for the record. For me, it was a little reminder in my head to come back home.”
“This is another interlude and I always intended it to be short. A lot of the second half of the album, I wrote this to remind myself that I’ll be OK.”
Until I Met You ft. Nas
“It was so full circle to work with him. I’ve said since I started this that I wanted Nas on my debut and somehow life brought me that and I’m blown away by it. I also was heavily inspired by Amy Winehouse, lyrically, in this song, even in the drums and the feeling of it. For me, whenever I had conversations with him -- I can’t really explain it -- but I could just feel her aura every time I talked to him.”
“I liked that it was the last song and it was called ‘The Beginning.’ I wanted the whole album to feel like an endless loop. So you don't really know where it starts or begins, just like how my whole life is the beginning and then the beginning of end.Those were my last thoughts on the relationship.”
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'It Was Divine' will be released on April 24th.
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