In the world of R&B, Blood Orange is like a disciple of Frank Ocean. Their music has a similar atmosphere, but his new record goes down a different path than his contemporaries. Blood Orange keeps it intimate in Negro Swan, singing softly of love, family, and the soul.
Negro Swan is a very album to take in. Much of it is minimalistic, focussing on one main element and Blood Orange's voice. Opening track 'Orlando' starts with city ambience and a chill, jazzy instrumental, Blood Orange's fragile voice supported by a soulful gospel. Soul add a big color to the record, always used tastefully. Soul singer Georgia Anne Muldrow takes over 'Runnin',' a simple track where her bluesy attack gives way to a minimalist, yet constantly changing instrumental.
Various interludes in Negro Swan set up its message. Some tracks, like 'Family' which features writer Janet Mock and the end of 'Dagenheim Dream,' are dedicated to just someone telling a story. At times it's about family, other times its about the state of things. Negro Swan attempts to capture the reality of living as an African American, in both terms of family values and just the general day-to-day life some people lead. Personal stories are captured in this record that stand as testaments to those messages, intimate tracks like 'Take Your Time' ensuring a better future ahead and the very R&B 'Jewelry' being an ode for African American roots. 'Holy Will' stands at the center of the record, its disorienting synths and spiraling yet gentle and soulful sound supported by Ian Isiah really capturing the album's vibe as a whole.
Blood Orange keeps it intimate in Negro Swan, telling stories and really capturing the purest essence of the African American experience. It's an album that lends itself to relaxing but also tuning into stories. It's not necessarily stuff that's unheard of, but it certainly has its own personality.
Favorite Track: Holy Will
Least Favorite Track: Runnin'
Rating: 71 / 100
Stream or buy Negro Swan on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: