Algebra Blessett


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The wait between Algebra Blessett's 2008 debut and 2014 follow-up was a mighty long time, but during it, she was featured on several songs by her contemporaries, including Raheem DeVaughn's "Nobody Wins a War," Anthony David's "4Evermore," Esperanza Spalding's "Black Gold," and Vivian Green's "Light the Universe." For her second album, she changed labels, from Kedar to eOne, and worked extensively with Kwamé Holland and LTMoe, both of whom produced five of these songs, as well as Shannon Sanders, Brett Baker, and Bryan-Michael Cox. Recovery is dressed up like a theatrical tale regarding a rocky relationship and resilience in its wake, from Blessett's elaborate butterfly dress to a carefully plotted-out sequence of songs. The album begins with an "exordium" rather than an introduction, the title track has an "augment" rather than a part two, and several cuts sound less like isolated ideas, more suited for specific points in the story. The strength of the material tends to justify the scheme. Each one of the Kwamé collaborations has at least a touch of dusty, classic style -- escalating string vamps and bittersweet horn lines -- with crunching and knocking drums and discreet synthesizer shading. He's the best creative match for her. Meanwhile, "Struggle to Be," produced by Baker, is a hypnotizing duet with lone guest vocalist Q. Parker, and "Forever" makes for an emotional high point with Sanders' slamming drums and drawn-out smears of organ. Blessett never sounds as if she's trying particularly hard. Her expressions merely pour out, making it easy to overlook her skill. While 2008's Purpose was enjoyable, this is more focused and has serious repeat-play quality, as if Blessett knew exactly what she wanted to do and did it to the fullest.

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