(SpliceToday) – “She was 5′10/looking real good in her skin/I think her shirt said Zeppelin/boots up to her ass man.” You’d think those lyrics would come from a nostalgic white retro-rock lusty hairy guy band, macking on groupies and the awesome potency of guitar riffs. But you’d be wrong. The lyrics are not by guys with beards. Instead, they’re the opening of “Love Under Lights,” the first track on electronica/R&B/dance weirdo genius Dawn Richard’s new album, Redemption.
Redemption is the conclusion of a trilogy of albums that began with Goldenheart (2014) and Blackheart (2015). On all three, Richard—who got her start in the P. Diddy girl group Danity Kane— is ostentatiously omnivorous. She deliberately positions herself in relation to a tradition of rock music defined as broadly as possible. Goldenheart transforms Peter Gabriel’s “Your Eyes” into a funky dance anthem; Blackheart turns Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” inside out, so the woman is the “rolling stone” and the “sex fiend”; “I’m not your girl, I’m just your wet dream.”
Redemption‘s tribute is “Hey Nikki,” a variation on Prince’s “Darlin’ Nikki” which positions Nikki imagining herself as both desirer and desired. “Don’t you want to come and get with me/I know you looking at me,” she sings as distorted electric guitar tears and warps in the background and the track doom crawls like a slowed down Zeppelin track. It’s not clear whether Richard is Prince wanting Nikki or Nikki wanting Prince, or herself wanting both. “She painted her scent all over her room” she moans; there’s a dispersal of lust and identity. Rock, R&B, men, women, queer and straight, burn up together in a conflagration of cool.
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