Singer-songwriter Summer Walker, 25, is a master of the confrontational ballad. Her music operates under the gentle misandry of the #MenAreTrash mantra, but she also sincerely struggles with the difficulties of loving them. In the song, Walker typically enters into conversation with potential lovers and partners, questioning them when they are shady, questioning their alibis, approaching them when caught in a lie, resisting their envy. find excuses. Few of the artists working today are more effective at expressing the exasperation that accompanies a mean boyfriend.
Like Keyshia Cole and K. Michelle before her, Walker uses an argumentative form of R. & B., detailing mischief, lamenting wasted time, and warning the men responsible. “The first was shit / The second was nobody / The third was trying to get up / The fourth, you said, ‘It would be different, different, different” / And I believed you “, remembers -she on “Broken Promises.” Her 2019 debut album, “Over It”, is full of charming conversations between an assertive woman and her insecure suitors, drawing inspiration from classic hits from Destiny’s Child and Usher. Walker shows respect for the R. & B. of the past, but she doesn’t pursue it at the expense of her own sound, which is also indebted to the boom of modern rap and the sincerity of classic soul.
Walker’s music is primarily produced by London on da Track, a composer specializing in distant-sounding arrangements and spaced synth patterns. London had his first success as a trap beats maker, bringing a woozy quality to the music of Gucci Mane, Young Thug and TI, but he found his niche by producing for Walker, applying his dazed sample work and disorienting to the softer palettes of contemporary R. & B. Her work with Walker earned her the largest placement of her career, on Ariana Grande’s 2020 chamber single “Positions.” The two eventually started dating, and Walker gave birth to their daughter in March. They split soon after, and Walker has since dubbed London the ‘Hell Ghetto Baby Daddy’. The deterioration of the relationship became Walker’s next inspiration and secured his place in the long history of R. & B artists demanding a little revenge through song.
As the title suggests, Walker’s new album “Still Over It” picks up where its beginnings left off: they are composed, nonchalant songs about refusing to be mistreated. When she describes leaving a toxic relationship, on “Unloyal”, she feigns responsibility, mocking her lover’s reckless behavior. “Guess I’m not loyal, babe / Guess I’m not real,” she sings with a shrug. “We’ll call it whatever you like. She is delightfully condescending and passive-aggressive, looking down on her man moral high. There are plenty of other ironic moments in the same way, like “Ciara’s Prayer”, a blessing from one of Walker’s ancestors that closes the album. Ciara once went down Walker’s path, as an R. & B artist who had a child with a man in the rap industry and found him unsuccessful, and now she is appealing for fortune. of the young artist. “I am broken but I am beautifully broken,” she chants. “I know you will help me put together all the right pieces. I know my pain is not in vain.
Even more striking are the songs in which Walker assesses the wreckage of his family life, examining the damage with keenness and even a sense of responsibility. On “Broken Promises,” she re-examines the warning signs she had previously ignored, and the silent whirlwind of the rhythm music box opens for its pleading harmonies. Throughout the ripples of “Session 33,” Walker takes stock of his ex’s actions, how success and attention enables his bad behavior. In “No Love,” Walker and SZA take turns imagining what they would do with a second chance in their relationship. Both resolve to give less of themselves, to satisfy only their lowest instincts. “All the lust, there will be no loving you,” Walker sings. But through the muffled voices, it is evident that she is trying to stifle her own feelings.
The romantic drama between Walker and London adds a layer of tabloid spectacle to many of these songs. (As one of the album’s main producers, London is paid to be publicly dragged by his ex, but he appears to be excited about it.) For those who know the story, some details are too juicy to miss. “I want to start with your mom / She should have fucked your ass,” Walker sings on “4th Baby Mama”. Former lovers working on music through parting are not unknown (see: Fleetwood Mac), but the dynamic songwriter-producer – with one vocal and visible partner, and the other out of sight – complicates these songs of estrangement. On the slow opening, “Bitter,” Walker calls out London for cheating, but his producer credit on the song turns his sweeps into something like a joke. “Reciprocity” and “Circus” also make great use of this convention; within these two productions, Walker’s sounds exhausted by every London movement, the hi-hat of the premiere even seems to mimic the ticking of a watch’s second hand. These moments conjure up images of “Dreamgirls”: an angry R. & B singer locked in the booth, teasing and provoking her partner in the control room. Ultimately, however, this album isn’t just fueled by reality TV melodrama. Walker’s outspoken writing style and smooth, effortless voice tie the songs together. Even when she’s the most annoyed, she doesn’t seem to lose her temper.