Every generation there’s once in a lifetime artists that come around that become the voice of heartbreak, vulnerability, honesty and soul, which everyone can relate to and are really able to standout amongst their peers. Whether it be your Sadé, Mary J. Blige, Prince or Amy Winehouse, as examples. Artists that are authentic to the very soulful art, their timeless classic vocals, lyrics, production, growth, arrangements and raw feelings that they’re able to channel. Which help describe the many ups and downs one goes through in the tumultuous journey of falling in and out of love. Artists that are timeless like their music and can really fit in almost any musically great era. While Snoh Aalegra is that artist for this generation.
The Swedish singer and songwriter, who was born in Sweden, but has now resided in Los Angeles for a few years artists, proving so on her very timeless and classic debut album, FEELS, which she released nearly two years ago. As well as now again on its just as great, if not better followup sophomore album, -Ugh, those feels again. A very playful title that’s one of the all-time greatest album sequel titles too. The album just like its predecessor, is once again executive produced by her ARTium Recordings label head, legendary Chicago producer, No I.D. Who once again has a hand in a majority of the soulfully edgy and classic sound, as well as the remarkable sonic cohesion of the record.
Like the cinematic soul sound she has previously described her music as, Aalegra’s, -Ugh, those feels again, plays out like a very raw and vulnerable film score in audio form to her ever-changing love life. Picking up by focusing on the aftermath of ending the long relationship she outlined in, FEELS, her new album focuses on the hope, doubt and endless great possibilities one goes through when you’re single again and trying to find love and romantic relationships. Also showcasing a woman that’s not afraid or ashamed to express those feels again, which makes you go, ugh, at times.
All those feels are explored right away with the very slow-winding and richly infectious, as well as smooth, opening record, Here Now (Intro). Where like her previous two projects she’s able to draw the listener in right away with her sweet and smoky rich vocals playing on loop before perfectly seguing into the instantly timeless and colorful, I Want You Around. The piano-driven and laidback production from Grammy Award-winning producer, NES, providing the perfect backdrop for Aalegra’s always signature smooth heavenly timeless vocals. As she sings about falling head over heels for a lover she wants around and has all those loving feels you get when you are in love and don’t ever want to leave, but don’t want to admit to either. Snoh’s soothingly smooth melodies sailing over those amazingly angelic vocals will even have you literally falling in love with her for how purely gold, yet uniquely great this record is.
The transitions and happiness found on all of Side A, from those first two records, to Situationship, Whoa, Find Someone Like You, Toronto and Love Like That. Really giving hope and happiness to all of the hopeless romantics that still try to seek love in today’s more complex society. The mesmerizing chimes and synths of the P2J-produced, Situationship, perfect for Aalegra’s satin velvet vocals, as she sings about catching herself into a whirlwind of emotions she can no longer ignore of a complicated relationship. Which a lot of today’s average people can relate to in their own love life’s. While the floating and infatuation lightly resounding percussion of the D’Mile-produced backdrop on, Whoa, let the singer really let loose to the mountaintops for one of her most beautiful and gloriest vocal performances of the whole album. Quite possibly even of her short, but already illustrious career, as Snoh utilizes a more softer and airier tone to express with such ease how head over heels in love she is. Which you can hear with how effortlessly her timbre and beautiful harmonic vocals glisten so beautifully on the hook. Even transporting you to cloud nine and almost making them feel like they’re in love.
Find Someone Like You, is the soulfully timeless and beautiful standout that’s easily one of not only the top two or three records on the album, but of her career so far. The beautiful piano-laden production perfect for Aalegra to so beautifully sing with her signature heavenly beautiful vocals about a love she has always waited her, “whole life, to find someone like,” as the chorus suggests. The very beautiful love ballad with the orchestration of violins before Snoh and a choir end off the record in such heavenly and joyous intonation is sure to be a lovers anthem that will even be played at weddings as the first song a newly wed couple dances their first dance together to. That then perfectly segues into the very vividly sexy and dreamy, Toronto. A very head-turning and sultry song that with its electric guitar and deep bassline of the Matthew Burnett and Riley Bell production, really let Aalegra show off her signature smoky vocals. As she shows off how she’s able to climb the octave scales with such ease and draw such great inspiration from her late great mentor and hero, Prince. Aalegra putting you in a trance of what’s sure to be a great and unforgettably memorable night you don’t want to wake up from.
Just when you think the album couldn’t get any better, Snoh shows the very great chemistry her and No I.D. have on the very emotional, Love Like That. By far one of the best records on the album, that’s a real tear jerker that will truly get you in your feels for what’s also one of her most masterfully pen written songs too.
Side B of the album finds Aalegra and her once very hopeful bouts for love start to dim to grey. With No I.D. and Steve Wyreman providing the perfect soulfully cinematic produced backdrop for, Charleville 9200 Pt. II. A continuation of one of the singer’s most successful and best records to date, Charleville 9200, this track is a complete opposite of the original. As she realizes the movie-esque romance of a young love she shared with her lover in part one was all a lie. Aalegra trying to salvage the once very lively relationship, but you can sense is coming to an end through her almost emotionless vocal delivery paired with the way the harrowing synths and striking guitar close out the track. The transition from this into the very soulfully emotionally touching, You, quite perfect too. As Aalegra sings so compassionately with her emotionally soothing vocals over the soulfully thumping Joel Compass-produced guitars backdrop about a love for someone who she can’t live without, while also keeping that romance quiet and on the low. A record that’s not only arguably the best on the album, but arguably one of the best of her career, as well as one of the greatest records and songs ever recorded. Especially with the way Aalegra is able to bring those very emotionally harmonious soothing angelic vocals and emotionally compassionate touching lyrics to life over the very beautiful and hauntingly perfect backdrop. That’s so beautiful it may not only bring you to tears, but is also perfect to play and perform in a live setting too.
Aalegra also shows on the album that she has the ability to write more records by herself and without collaborators. A big difference from this record to her previous album is the amount of records she’s able to write by herself throughout and the fact there’s no guest features. You can argue is a big reason why this album maybe even slightly better than her very classic and timeless debut album, FEELS. That isn’t to say she can’t use outside collaborators/writers to make this album so great too, as evident on the Malik Yusef co-penned, short, yet very beautiful and organ heavy backdrop of the Mannesh and Doctor O-produced, Be Careful. Even the very passionate and almost emotionless lyrics that Marcus James helped co-write on the very cinematically beautifully passionate previously mentioned , Charleville 9200 Pt. II. James being one of the few outside collaborators/writers Aalegra uses on the album. Contributing to four other records, as well, which includes the very beautifully sweet and mostly instrumentation backed Doctor O-produced, Njoy. A very short, yet beautiful to the point record.
What really makes this album standout though as not only the best album this year, but one of the definitive records of the decade is how seamlessly and perfect it flows from each song to the next throughout. One of the best examples of this being how the latter part of the album ends off so great and matter of factly from, Nothing to Me into, I Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love, before closing out with, Peace. The Hip-Hop infused production from No I.D. and Mannesh on the middle finger to love anthem, Nothing to Me, finding Aalegra almost sounding like Erykah Budu in certain ways. What sounds like a Kendrick Lamar interloop also perfect to really bring out the frustration and disappointment you can hear so smoothly dripping like honey from the lyrics. Making it clear she wouldn’t stand for lack of commitment and broken promises. Aalegra doesn’t need to stoop to her former lovers level of non-commitment, even if he asks for forgiveness and about coming back into her life. He “means nothing to her,” now and she can stand on her own two feet. That said, Aalegra is still a hopeless romantic at her core, like so many of us. Which she displays with her very beautiful and emotionally great love-infused, I Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love. A very soul-infused sampled backdrop of chants and what sounds like a gospel choir production from No I.D. and Mannesh perfect for Aalegra’s heavenly angelic vocals. As she sings so beautifully about all the emotions and feels she’s laying all out on the table of her fears and regrets that lead her to that point of, “falling in love.” Even if she didn’t mean to, it’s in her and most humans nature to fallible in love. You can’t just walk away from love and always expect for it to stay away for long periods of time. Even when you still need love for yourself. Which makes it hard at times to romantically not fall in love with others, even if you didn’t mean to.
Just like her last album, FEELS, and previous EP/mini album, Don’t Explain, in her current series of conceptually cinematic projects before that, Snoh knows how to so perfectly close out an album too. As the classic Hip-Hop style cuts from the very cinematic No I.D. and Steve Wyreman production provide the perfect backdrop for Aalegra to show off her soothingly beautiful and at times heavenly cinematic vocals. A classic and very brilliantly written ballad about love gone wrong that was also able to bring her peace to be in the great and loving space she’s in now. Which so many of us really need in times like today. The love, peace and hope that Aalegra brings on her very timeless and classic sophomore album, -Ugh my those feels again, very needed right now. While also proving yet again why she’s easily been mine and so many others favorite artist for the past five or so plus years. She may not get a Grammy nomination for this like she should, but this is easily the best album to not only drop in all of music this year, but among the best and most definitive to of this decade. Which I think it will be hard for any other artist to top this year.