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Album Review: Lion Babe – Begin

2 min read

When their debut single Treat Me Like Fire was released in late 2012, Lion Babe’s merging of R&B, neo-soul and trip-hop was exciting, and captivatingly intriguing. Enough so, that over the course of three years, the duo managed to amass an admirable following off the back of that single alone. Now their debut album Begin is finally here, and there is no denying the idiosyncratic edge that vocalist Jillian Hervey brings to the record. Her soulful Erykah Badu-inspired relationship with her voice means that she can effortlessly curl melodies around the clean-cut, electro-groove production provided by Lucas Goodman, Lion Babe’s other half.

LionBabeBeginSongs like Stressed OUT, and On The Rocks best demonstrate their versatility, with aspects of disco-house blending with well-cultivated harmonies. Impossible is a catchy, radio-friendly song with flawless vocal melodies. But it is here that Hervey’s best quality also becomes her downfall. Although her slick, airy tones make for a comfortable listen, with a vocal range like hers, she is selling herself short by not taking more risks. Closing song Little Dreamer is beautifully executed, but is perhaps the only song in which she manipulates her full potential. And throughout, this is what this record lacks – a daring dollop of experimentation.

Perhaps it is through the want to create hits that this R&B album delivers much more as a mediocre dance record. Hervey’s jazzy, neo-soulesque vocals do intertwine well with the spaced-out soundscape’s curated by Goodman. Songs such as Where Do We Go encompass their potential to create hit singles. But to make a hit album, they’re going to have to really hone in on their selling points, and further exaggerate their individuality.

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