Lorine Chia - Naked Truths

Posted October 30, 2013

Cameroonian-born, Cleveland-based up-and-comer Lorine Chia has unleashed her brand new album, Naked Truths, a thoughtful and creative project that bridges the gap between classic and modern R&B.

Featuring lead single Eve's Perspective, Naked Truths comes packed with 13 original songs (and one skit).

Chia handles vocal duties throughout, with D&D, Nate Fox, Rio and a host of others contributing production.

Naked Truths Album Review

Imagine an individual who modestly boasts a voice justifiably likened to singing legends of decades past--soulful queens who quietly ruled over their respective genres during reigns that lasted far past their own lifetimes. Namely, Nina Simone and, indirectly, Billie Holiday have been channeled through the room-quieting voice of Lorine Chia, who after just twenty years of living possesses musical characteristics that enrapture and encompass vocal aesthetics from a different era entirely.

The African-born singer-songwriter continues to broaden her palette with Naked Truths, which densely compacts numerous styles over the course of its fourteen records and sees Chia occasionally taking steps in a direction to the left of what largely composed Lorine, her fantastic 2012 debut effort. Like a utility ball player, she has the ability to conduct slight or grandiose changes to her voice, yielding personalities which vary from those that preceded them. Such a phenomena is foreshadowed by the artwork that accompanies the digital release, which relies heavily on eclecticism to blend aspects of nature, which themselves are depicted using a multitude of mediums. The forests and water are of photographic quality, while the house atop a snowy mountain looks like it was crudely colored with pencils. Wisps of galaxies and toned stars sparsely litter the black sky above, hinting at a novel world as a dark, peculiar tree and purple lips occupy the foreground. Together, these elements barely shy away from tipping the scale towards excessiveness, instead fostering a harmonious imbalance.

A similar effect is translated to the music, where a consistent sound is rarely carried out for more than several consecutive songs. On Da Fire, Chia’s voice is startlingly altered as she assumes a position of wisdom and shares an ambiguous, widely applicable warning for those who have yet to experience the dangers of life. Singing in a more reserved, low tone for an already contralto-oriented artist, Lorine opts for a sound that borders on the lines of a Caribbean, Rasta-infused influence. Sounding like a young and powerful island queen, her voice is followed by that of a child’s, evoking images of rituals in which young choirs circle their leader in worship. It is also during this particular part of the project that an overlying theme for Lorine’s lyricism is highlighted, showcasing a tendency to say more with less and let the listener make their own inferences. Here lies an acknowledgment of the prison industrial complex that is as powerful without an explicit mentioning as it would have been with: “That’s why the system wanna hurt me, that’s why they planning in advance.”

An unorganized but working system of many styles continues before and after Da Fire. Two songs prior, on Bout It, Chia suits up in a Travis Scott costume (an artist she says she enjoys listening to) and executes an absolute head-knocker that would befit any situation that includes celebrating and/or flexing. Her voice approaches an almost masculine level as the melodic, sing-song raps exhibit a level of aggressiveness not matched for the rest of the album. The backdrop, provided by Rio & Kamo, is a brooding, energetic car shaker. Compare this track to the jaw-dropping Strange Fruit (a song that garnered Lorine some eyes and ears after being mistakingly credited for the vocals of Kanye’s Blood on the Leaves), which fully exhibits Chia’s smoky, 1930s singing, and the fact that the same artist is responsible for both may render doubts.

At times, Naked Truths alludes to Lorine standing in front of a broken mirror, peering at a fragmented version of herself. Symbolically, though, this notion is implied to be intentional. The aforementioned artwork attests to this, as does the title itself. When shedding layers and revealing inner thoughts and personal mind states, discrepancies are bound to arise with the naked truths that accompany them. Humans, after all, are wired to be walking paradoxes to one degree or another. A thin line defines the distinctions between versatility and an unsuccessful lack of focus, and she treads it with a steady stride with few hiccups: Might Come Around and New Friends are low points in a project that is otherwise subtly adventurous, and occasionally lackluster couplets dot the album. The missteps are minor concerns that only give more room to grow for an artist capable of delivering a timeless record at some point, or at multiple points, during a promising career that has just begun forming. Naked Truths is successful, but it is at its best when its creator channels her voice; which is to say, one that is larger than life.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted October 30, 2013
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