Hailing from America’s Midwest, Ohio-born Alina Baraz already has both feet planted firmly in mainstream soil without a single album release. Attracting a plethora of artists from Khalid to Nas, it almost seems impossible to have such an impressive track record of collaborators with just two EPs in the bank.
Her debut solo album ‘It Was Divine’ hits the shelves this week, an album which is telling of precisely why her name deserves such bold recognition.
The opening track, ‘My Whole Life’, jumps straight in with a love-drenched ballad alluring her listeners to continue on the journey of newfound infatuation, fluffy vocals and brain-tingling lyrics, all featuring throughout the entirety of the record.
With a monumental number of streams on previous releases, most of which settling on songs such as ‘Floating’ and ‘Electric’ (both featuring arena-sellout Khalid), Baraz shows no signs in ridding of those much-loved additions. 6LACK appears early on in the record, assisting the catchy ‘Morocco’ with his archetype vocals.
Tracks such as ‘Endlessly’ and ‘Be Good’ feel like a nod to Baraz’s start in music. After gaining her initial recognition for the highly-praised ‘Urban Flora’, an EP in collaboration with Danish producer Galimatias, Baraz made her roots with influence from the electronic scene. Such tracks on the record seem to play to the sentimentality of past predecessors while still being wholly her own.
“I’m not asking for too much,” Baraz sings on ‘To Me’, “I’m asking the wrong motherfucker”. Nine tracks deep, ‘To Me’ still gives a refreshing taste of her ability to change up the style and tone of each song, tiptoeing through multiple different genres.
Of course, this record wouldn’t be complete without the addition of in-demand and long-time collaborator Khalid, who features on ‘Off The Grid’. Both artists play to the harmony of one another’s voices, perfectly highlighting their musical chemistry.
Each track on ‘It Was Divine’ feels on the brink of top-40 success, yet stays characteristically in tune with Baraz’s flowery soulfulness and clear tastes of a background growing up on '90s R&B. As she finds herself trekking further into pop’s mainstream, there’s no doubt that the American is on the verge of explosion.
‘It Was Divine’, if not flawless, is near perfect. A consistent flow of well-produced tracks, a journey from honeymoon periods to lovers quarrels, and a sprinkling of acoustic ballads, Baraz’s debut is a track-for-track triumph.
Words: Gemma Ross
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