Kentucky born R&B star Tinashe is back with second album Joyride, a sensual yet subtle exploration reminiscent of Sade. But with subtlety, there is a danger of not packing enough of a punch to truly stand out.
The title track is a perfect example of this, by making everything sound understated I don’t feel the passion for music really shining through. The layered vocals would have really benefitted from being louder and less stripped back, because the strings would have made for a more expansive hit. No Drama follows in a similar vein, but it seems the presence of Offset ensures Tinashe has a little bit more swagger on this one. Her confident rhymes make such a difference, in a year full of powerful females Tinashe needs that boost to join them at the upper echelons of the game.
Tinashe has spoken of Janet Jackson as a key influence on her music many times, and on Ooh La La it really shines through. The bed springs creaking are off-putting to say the least, but pay attention to the vocal flourishes in the background and you may be able to pick out a Nelly “aah” lifted straight from the iconic Dilemma. The Little Dragon featuring Stuck With Me has a more experimental hip hop vibe that gels really well for Tinashe, and I think it should have been an angle explored further. It may be sandwiched between two unnecessary interludes, but it sticks out as the highlight thus far.
No Contest drops the ball again until midway through when there is more of a push in getting the vocals heard. As I said at the start, by trying to appear cool, Tinashe comes across as a little aloof or too distant to really be able to get on board with the tunes. For a song called Fires & Flames, I was not expecting a ballad – but surprisingly, it is a real highlight amidst the hit and miss mid section. At the heart of it, Tinashe has a beautiful voice that doesn’t need much done to it to impress. By dropping the bravado and doing away with the collaborations, Tinashe’s heart on sleeve album closer exposes her vulnerable side – something that is far more easy to nurture.
All in all, Joyride was more of a hit and miss. The good moments were strong, but needed something extra if it were to make a truly lasting impression. Tinashe may not have fully found her feet yet, but there were flashes of promise littered throughout this record that I think will ensure her next effort is a more cohesive journey.