Dawn Richard

New Breed

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A trilogy of expansive albums plus a crop of intermediary releases and featured appearances did not deplete Dawn Richard's reserve. On New Breed, her first major release since Redemption, the label-defiant marvel again switches up her supporting co-producers and cooks up another half-hour of authoritative progressive pop. Cosmopolitan as ever and adaptive to each backdrop, whether it includes percolating Germanic synthesizers, elastic disco-funk basslines, or window-shaking drums, Richard also keeps her New Orleans hometown at the fore, honoring her Washitaw Nation heritage, indulging in flashbacks, and incorporating musical references that are either understated or happenstance. She rejects any expectation and tag that is not self-assigned. The title track contains a verse that begins with "F*ck the heels and dress" and ends with a dismissive "I'm the motherf*cking king, yeah," and later uses as punctuation a vintage soundbite from artistic antecedent Grace Jones. The lack of inhibition transfers into the several romantic escapades, like when her partner is urged to "Live flagrant, make people nervous," or to "Keep it comin' 'til I can't move." Although Richard is resolutely combatant, only strengthened by each being or systemic force in her way, she's not above writing about her envy and insecurity -- as an impenitent wanting "petty to win tonight" as she is when she's fighting for the upliftment of black women. Even when the subtle power of Richard's voice is diminished slightly by trouble or distress, it's advisable to be on the singer's side or out of the way.

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