Algebra Blessett sure knows a thing or two about love. You know, the hopes and hurts, regrets and revelations of love — and she sings about it all on her sophomore release, Recovery. In fact, virtually every song on the Atlanta native’s new album addresses that complicated four-letter word in some fashion, and from some perspective.
When I interviewed Blessett last summer after her NYC performance at B.B. King, she shared, “Recovery is pretty much a healing album, it’s not… I didn’t recover from crack or nothing. It’s just that as human beings, we heal all the time without knowing it. We recover from being happy to being happiest. So, I was writing these songs and they just started coming out like, I’m growing as a person. And it’s not just heartache that I’m getting over, but I’m really growing. I’m not just my mom’s little girl anymore. I’m her womanchild. I’m growing as a human being. I’m learning. And all of that is a recovery process in general.”
Blessett does a masterful job and capturing the emotional highs, lows, and in-betweens of love and loss in song for her fans’ hearing and healing. The rawness, vulnerability and honesty Blessett manages to display with her lyrics and vocal arrangements make Recovery “an experience” that is well worth undertaking. Blessett had me with the title track, which ends with a beloved Soul II Soul sample a la 1989: Keep on moving. Don’t stop like the hands of time. Tracks 3 and 4, “Right Next To You” and “Nobody But You” tell the story of a woman deeply, and happily, entrenched in the bliss of love. Track 5 (“Struggle To Be”) and Track 9 “Paper Heart” however offer a different perspective of love that isn’t all roses, rings and happily ever after. Sometimes, love gets a little complicated and messy, and we find ourselves deep in our feelings and searching for answers.
Blessett creates the story and evokes the emotion beautifully with her lyrics to “Struggle To Be”: My heart forgot that it was broken into pieces, when I saw that you were hoping I still loved you. And you wanted me as much as I want you, but the words would go unspoken that we made a big mistake in the past, went separate ways. Never thought our love would outlast but it stayed. My head and my heart are falling apart. Don’t want to miss out again on a good love, cause baby it’s you that I want, and it’s you who’s unavailable for me… Shout out to Blessett’s fellow Atlantian, Q. Parker of 112 fame, for helping to make this track vividly come alive.
One of the album’s funkier and groovier tracks, “Danger Zone”, is a cautionary tale about the dangers of falling in love too fast: There’s one thing I know about love, you can play it safe but love is dangerous. You never know what you’ll do when that love falls on you. What do you do? The 11th track on the album, “Mystery”, is my favorite, because it best captures exactly where I find myself emotionally in this love game. I just want to call Blessett on the phone and chit-chat for a spell like good girlfriends who always have the other’s back after I listen to her sing: Last guy I knew had a smile like yours, hope that’s the only thing you have in common, man. Cause I just cannot endure another nice smile that’s disguising a problem man. So let’s make a deal, for real. I’ll drop my wall if you let your wall fall, but I’ma go second, check it…
“Another Heartache” (Track 12) characterizes a woman resigned to being a loser in the game of love, but Blessett transcends the realm of engaging storytelling through song and takes on the role of teacher and healer with the lyrics of the album’s last singles, “Better For Me” and “I’ll Be OK”. I’m seriously considering taking a cue from Gabrielle Union in Being Mary Jane and putting up some post-its scribbled with Blessett’s wonderfully wise lyrics: I know that I gotta let go, just so I can be better for me… and Something in me can’t go on holding you, so I selfishly choose myself over you… No matter where you are in your personal love story — be it in love, out of love, or struggling to make sense of love, Recovery has something that you can relate to. During her B.B. Kimg performance Blessett teased the audience by saying she knew some of them didn’t know who she was (she was opening for Eric Roberson, who she collaborated with for Recovery), but this is what I know: with this latest release, that’s about to change. For real.
[Photo: eOne Music]