Singer and actress Kiana Ledé’s voice lends itself well to the poignant, stripped-down power of an acoustic performance. It is angelic and delicate and also strengthened by a seriousness that quickly moves listeners to stand at attention. With her newly released KIKI (The Acoustics vol. 1) EP, the singer reimagines a trio of tracks from her debut LP, KIKI, as an entrancing set that places an unflinching spotlight on the vocal power of Kiana and a couple of guests.
Opening with “Chocolate (Acoustic)”, we are treated to a beautifully chanting collaboration between Lede and Dreamville darling Ari Lennox. This newer take on the well-received single unveils a sweetly romantic layer within the song while also giving Kiana a moment to shine a bit brighter as our attention is drawn away from the original’s slinking-soul arrangement. “Forfeit (Acoustic)” teases simmering energy from the opening notes and keeps delivering barely contained anger with every line uttered from our pissed-off songbird. For a quick second, it feels as if an entirely different singer has stepped to the microphone. But we’re reminded that this is still the angel from the previous track when her register goes from the “whispering in your ear while I hold this gun to your head” lower end of the spectrum to the sweeter side of things when she begins her back-and-forth with featured guest Lucky Daye. Strangely enough, a song that opens with the lines “You don't wanna try me/You better forfeit, keep fuckin' with my vibes…” ends things on what feels like an almost affectionate note.
Lastly, the tune “Crazy (Acoustic)” sidesteps the run of piano-led backdrops heard in the previous tracks, works in some strumming acoustic guitars, and treks boldly into the sort of absorbing heartbreak music that you would expect to hear on a lost and found Unplugged session from Tamia, only with a bit more bite to it.
Along with the KIKI (The Acoustics vol. 1) project, Kiana Lede also adventures to cover P!nk’s heartfelt and politically-charged 2006 single “Dear Mr. President” – giving the lyrics the occasional touch up to fit with our current Commander-in-Chief but mostly sticking to the original’s narrative to show us just how little things have changed. The piece is sobering and has an open mix of folksy and gospel-steeped power deeply embedded in its roots.
You can listen to KIKI (The Acoustics vol. 1) and "Dear Mr. President" now on most streaming services courtesy of Republic Records/UMG Recordings Inc.