Review Summary: One of the best examples of why not to underestimate the potential of a former backup singer.
After severing ties with Diddy, whom she was managed by during her run with female pop super group Danity Kane, and directly involved with for the Diddy – Dirty Money collaboration effort, R&B/soul singer Dawn Richard has crafted a debut solo album in which she relies completely on her independent self, but uses the experience and influences she’s gained from her previous music ventures. For an independent album, the production on Goldenheart
is of remarkably pristine quality, and feels more lively and technically proficient than the overly-polished sheen of albums from her contemporaries that have a much more costly studio-funding.
is a slick album, with sly synths, and bass beats that alternate from smooth throbs to pulsating booms. The songs strike this interesting middle-ground between balladry and anthematic, which makes the album capable of being a strutting power-house and a reclined nerve-easer at once. Richard shows off her expertise in the dance-pop area, resurrecting the types of club-worthy grooves that were once before born from group effort in Danity Kane, but are done much better here by Richard stand-alone because of her mastery over the genre. She also incorporates the brisk chill of the melodies she boasted when she was one third of Diddy - Dirty Money, giving the album some frost around the edges. Vocal layering is present throughout the album, but Richard doesn’t merely stack layers on top of one another. She proves herself to be quite the talented producer, sorting elements in a way that feels all encompassing, expansive, and gives the impression of vivid depth. The suave synths are never overpowered by the raw percussion, and though Dawn lets her soulful harmonies soar to the rafters and back, she never overdoes it in a way that her voice drowns out the music supporting her that’s there to appreciate.
is one of the most technically impressive R&B albums of the year. All by herself, Dawn achieves more infectious hooks, and uniquely seductive production with a broader range than what most mainstream R&B artists in general can accomplish with the aid of dozens of co-writers and producers. It feels compassionate, earnest, and with PBR&B blowing up with male R&B singers like The Weeknd, Dawn Richard has shown with her debut album that she is overly-qualified to set the standard for independent female R&B artists.