Following a spike in popularity after the release of her 2015 EP Urban Flora, Alina Baraz released her first studio-album It Was Divine on April 24! The Cleveland singer focused this project on the self, stating, “This album gravitates around love and self.” Baraz featured a multitude of talents on her debuting project scoping from friend Khalid to hip-hop star Nas. The album chronicles an ever-changing string of thoughts and perspectives.
Morocco (feat. 6LACK)
The second track on the album features hip-hop and R&B artist 6LACK. The track implements a baseline and trippy-instrumental akin to Tame Impala, which Baraz revealed as an influence. The song focuses on what appears to be the infatuation period in a relationship: “My favorite view/Is me covered in you. . .” The track follows Baraz’s familiar sound: tranquil R&B, infused with pop elements. It captures a hypnotic atmosphere and leaves you open to re-listening.
The fourth track of the album (also a single), is a delicate hymn regarding another point in her relationship. Baraz cited D’Angelo and Radiohead as influences in this song’s sound. “Endlessly” easily conveys her feelings at the time — a soft track for a gentle period in love.
Ranging from bass to an acoustic, this song features an array of guitar sounds. The instrumental uses synths, traveling into distortion for her outro. The song easily matches the vibe of the album, which she manages to keep up throughout. Despite being based around a jumbled mind and thoughts, Baraz does not stray from her intended sound.
Off the Grid (feat. Khalid)
The sixth track on the album features Khalid, a close friend to Baraz. The duet focuses on enjoying someone else’s company, which could easily be linked to the two’s actual friendship. Baraz told Apple Music, “I was in the studio and wanted to write a song that I could drive to. And I think of Khalid when I think about driving—he’s just perfect for a drive.”
The sound of the track follows an almost distorted guitar sound decorated through an array of beats and drum sounds. Both Baraz and Khalid use vocal lulls throughout, making the sound ideal for a night-time drive.
More Than Enough
“More Than Enough” is the album’s third single and also one of my favorites thus far. Baraz captures a conversation with another person and oneself. She reminds herself and the person she’s in a relationship with, that they are enough by stressing reassurance and its importance.
The single utilizes a constant beat, interrupted every-so-often by a soft strum of chords on an acoustic guitar. The instrumental itself is dreamlike, featuring a familiar glittering sound, similar to the one used in her first single. At first glance, the song sounds very sensual. Its message is more comforting, however, Baraz states, “I feel like we forget to nourish what we love and there’s just something about reassurance that hits so deeply.”
Baraz’s ninth track of the album features an acoustic lullaby. This single represents a pivotal point in herself. Baraz commented in an interview with CLASH, “This song changed my life. I wrote it for myself, I wrote it to get out of something toxic. I needed to hear those words. And so for me, that was life-altering.” This track was a great choice as a single — it represents a strong sense of the album as a whole. The album is not simply going through the process of a relationship, but rather a transformation of self.
The song features vocal lulls and glittering sounds. Similar to most of her work, the song is relaxing and serves as an ode-to-self. Moreover, the instrumental fades out with rain sounds, giving an oddly-cohesive sense of rebirth after a listen.
A few of my other favorites include “Memo Blue” and “Who Got Me.” I’m a sucker for short songs and just about anything that sounds sad in some way; this is exactly why “Memo Blue” is my perfect interlude. It begins with offbeat piano chords and follows up into a delicate ode that feels fit for a Disney princess. This song feels like dancing in the moonlight by the sea. It’s just that good.
“Who Got Me” follows the previous song on the album and serves as a reminder to put oneself first. It uses acoustics and 80s synth sounds scattered around the instrumental.
Overall rating: 4.5/5
In short, It Was Divine is ethereal, elegant and alluring. Alina Baraz is an incredible musical artist: her sound is a seamless mix of an R&B and alternative. I think she’s in a league of her own and deserves to be heard. I would consider this album to be high up on my list of all-time favorite albums. I’m excited to see what else Baraz has in store and how she evolves as an artist. If you haven’t listened to her yet, give this album a try.
Featured Image via @alinabaraz on Twitter