Review Summary: You're a star (in the making) love
Sail Out, Jhené Aiko's EP is a relatively modest offering, considering that she was featured on a huge Drake single earlier in the year. One would assume that after being given such mainstream exposure, Aiko would choose to release a rushed LP to capitalize on her newfound publicity. However, her latest EP is rather tame and subdued, appearing like Jhené is a bit unsure of herself although showing enough potential to warrant staying tuned.
The production on the seven track EP is composed of mostly clear, minimal, and smooth beats that display a chilled-out, dark R&B vibe. The same kind of atmosphere that contemporaries, Drake and The Weeknd have been popularizing the last couple years. Her vocals compliment the style as they run from upbeat jaunts to hazy lingerings, with the latter being her stronger suit. Their aren't too many effects layered upon her voice but when they are applied, they suit the mood of the album such as in the second half of, "Stay Ready (What a Life)", where the layers of disengagement resemble that herbal high she so often sings about. Lyrically and production wise, Jhené appears to have everything in line for a major breakthrough… so what holds this EP back?
A serious flaw of this EP is that more than half the tracks feature other artists. Even though some collaborations actually blend well with her flow and production such as the playful and cheery, "Bed Peace" featuring Childish Gambino. The other appearances offer nothing that she couldn't have done on her own, especially the verse contributed by Vince Staples, which sounds quite out of place contrasting the mood of the track. Perhaps a reason why she chooses to utilize so many other guests, is because she is reluctant to carry an album (even though this is an EP) on her own. The inclusion of so many other voices only help to dilute her potency and take away from her own vocal abilities and unique flows. That being said, this weak spot could be easily remedied by the time she releases her next LP.
She is at her strongest on numbers like, "The Worst" and "3:16am" where she alone carries the songs and lets her own personal style develop with the former showcasing the star power that she is capable of achieving. Her verses on the song are not only hard-hitting but also touching as she straddles the line between a strong independent woman and vulnerable sensuality. The muggy beat and frigid piano line aid her vocal delivery in a story of a deceived lover. This inner strength she draws from as she valiantly pours sung verses and flows over the composition is a definite highlight. It's commendable that Aiko didn't try to ride Drake's coattails and drop a hurried album by instead offering us a reserved EP that, although not perfect, shows just enough promise.