|Album Review: Amaal—Black Dove EP|
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Toronto's Amaal has been gracefully climbing the R&B ladder for the past few years. When we last caught up with her, she hadn't yet released her debut EP, Black Dove. It's difficult to pass judgement on an artist when they only have a couple of singles out in the world, but it has been rightfully predicted by many that Amaal is going to impress.
An ethereal, delicate vocal opens Black Dove on "Let Go." It's almost timid. She takes her time working her way under your skin. This EP was written with the idea of a dove and all its connotations in society in mind. It doesn't go off with a bang, because a bang would be counterproductive to what Amaal is attempting to achieve. Amaal is at peace with herself, her heritage, the notion of her womanhood. "Black dove to me means freedom," she says. "Freedom from my own captivity. Freedom from the shackles society and I have placed on myself. The freedom of no longer committing a disservice to myself and owning every part of me." She really takes flight on "So What," a track that calls back to vintage R&B with its pulsing production, Lauryn Hill-esque bass and notes of a gospel choir in the background. Although Amaal is signed to a major label, there is an element of fierce independence about her music.
On "Later," she muses on the oh-so-feminine urge to fix the people we love. It's a beautiful showcase of her lower vocal register and her lyrical prowess. Black Dove manages to salute the history of R&B while sounding current. The production of the EP is first-rate, and its portrait of femininity—specifically black femininity—is healing. This is a spectacular debut project from a truly inspiring young artist.