SZA - CTRL (Album Review)


Having such a naturally elegant voice,  the alt-r&b protege darling SZA, born Solána Imani Rowe, bursts with personality. 

The 26 year old doesn't start the album with a traditional r&b template, but with dreamy minimalist instrumentation made up of a light guitar running solo while SZA delivers dominate vibes with her subdued yet powerful vocals confessing how relationships sometimes rot by pain, passion, and equal backstabbing on the majestic intro track, "Supermodel".

After that comes the cool bass of “Love Galore", that shakes the record and gives it a pulse inside its trap beat as SZA continues to breathe out a soothing chorus' “Love... 'long as we got." Even if the verses fall flat with the transfixed production, the surprisingly fitting guest spot from Travis Scott regrettably still doesn't add enough to the table lyrically, among other more stand-out tracks. But not everything is completely modern, SZA dips her toes in old school west coast style g-funk with fellow Top Dawg artist, Kendrick Lamar as well on the provocative, “Doves In The Wind”.     

The fourteen track major label debut balances out evenly with the carefree freewill of young life with tracks mentioned, "Love Galore" and "Doves in the wind" which comes alongside rappers who are included to play devil's advocate for SZA's inner struggle with liberation, blind denial, and search for unconditional affection that revolves in her subconscious psychological door, best example being the ending end of the record, with the most experimentally involved track, “Pretty Little Birds”. The track’s otherworldly and spacious instrumentation includes an added bonus by Isaiah Rashad.  

Aching for more pop encrusted sound, the middle section of CTRL contains the hit-making quality that SZA most definitely deserves creating, with tracks like “Drew Barrymore” with its purely lucid trance, the Jersey singer unravels the core of the bold self-discovery of the album, as well as the lavished dance-pop sugary track, “Prom”, SZA may not have the most amplified voice, but her clever songwriting thrives to leave a concrete impression on the listener with undoubtedly layered melodies.

All though there are some forgettable cuts on CTRL, the overall presentation and irreversible solid songwriting, melodically and artistically, impresses wholeheartedly.  Given listeners a much needed exploration to the style of music with its content-filled and mature introspective of modern R&B.

DOPE HIGHLIGHTS: Supermodel, Love Galore, Doves In The Wind, Drew Barrymore, Prom, Pretty Little Birds, 20 Something