After a nine-month break away from the limelight to do “normal things”, Beyoncé is back with a vengeance! On Monday, I was invited to the Swarovski Lounge for an exclusive listening session of the R&B star’s new album, ‘4’, and just two minutes into the record, it was clear to see that the 29-year-old is at an entirely new stage in her life – both musically and personally…
The 12-track LP sees the star revisit her rhythm and blues roots by adopting a soothing, slightly laid-back and mature sound. With the likes of Frank Ocean, Babyface, Kanye West and Diane Warren all involved in the project, the triple threat singer is pushing towards longevity and a time-defying record, over chart-topping songs that can often become forgettable with time.
The album opens with ‘1+1’ – a soulful and rhythmic power ballad – and from the get-go, Beyoncé is sending a firm message that this new record is all about the vocals. ‘I Care’ continues with the theme, but gives fans that familiar Beyoncé sound – one that is slightly reminiscent of the Destiny’s Child era.
The Frank Ocean-produced ‘I Miss You’ demonstrates a vulnerable side to the usually confident diva and ventures into new territory. ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ is more of a safe bet and is a definite single contender.
‘Party’, which features vocals from Outkast’s Andre 3000 and produced by Kanye West, adds some much appreciated tempo. The care-free, ‘I just wanna have fun’ style song has Bey’s alter-ego, Sasha Fierce, written all over it.
The calm mood is then restored with ‘Rather Die Young’, only to switch up a gear with The Dream-produced ‘Start Over’ – an edgy/pop song that’s likely to be a future single. ‘Love On Top’ takes listeners on a nostalgic journey with its summery, 80s R&B vibe.
The carnival-inspired ‘Countdown’ is a personal favourite and is the most experimental track on the record. Sampling Boyz II Men’s ‘Uhh Ahh’, the drum filled party song is an absolute banger. ‘End Of Time’ continues with the upbeat genre-clashing theme and is another one for the clubs.
The straight talking power ballad ‘I Was Here’ – produced by Ryan Tedder (Adele, Leona Lewis) – sees Beyoncé acknowledge her position as an icon in popular culture. But ‘Run The World (Girls)’ seems slightly out of place when it abruptly comes in as the closing song.
Overall summery: With its melodic vocals and nostalgic instrumentals, ‘4’ showcases Beyoncé’s raw talent and not only demonstrates the sassy singer’s growth in life, but also in love. It’s artistically diverse and arguably her best album to date.
Beyoncé’s album, ‘4’, is out on June 27.