Review: H.E.R. Showcases Her Talents In Full Force On ‘Back Of My Mind’
‘Back Of My Mind’ is a solid body of work that highlights why H.E.R. is positioned as one of the most prominent artists in R&B today.
H.E.R. has been slowly rising in prominence over the years. Her talent, aided by her mystique has helped her to stand out from her peers and the organic growth that she has made as an artist has made the success she has achieved to date, undeniable.
Her Grammy and Academy Award wins have only helped to bolster claims that she is one of the most prominent music artists in the game now, of any genre.
She has released EPs and compilation albums over the years but despite the obvious quality of those projects, the question has always been — when was she going to release her studio album?
‘Back Of My Mind’ is her first studio album. A gaze into the mind of H.E.R. In describing what the album was about she said this about it:
Back of My Mind is accepting the vulnerability — being able to quiet the noise around me and listen to my own voice. It’s the many layers that make me, me. It’s all of the things that we’re kind of afraid to share, afraid to say, afraid to do.
This album is representing this freedom of creativity that people are now accepting of me. Music is my playground, and I can do whatever I want.
From listening to the album, it’s clear that this was the case.
Back Of My Mind brought in many of the common themes of an R&B album — love, regret, heartbreak run rampant throughout the album.
The title of the album worked well with the types of songs on the project. Most of the songs sounded like conversations with herself in her head — examples like the Hit-Boy produced ‘Trauma’, other examples include ‘Exhausted’ and ‘Process’ which all encapsulated the feeling of H.E.R. listening to the thoughts in her head out loud.
The album brought a variety of atmospheres throughout. Along with the songs lamenting past loves and failed relationships are the celebratory songs where she reflects on how far she’s come in her career and the lofty heights she has reached since her humble beginnings in the music industry.
It’s clear that she has a lot on her mind and it all translated well into a full body of work. Many of the tracks showed a level of vulnerability that we haven’t seen from H.E.R. up to now and she did well to peel back some of the layers of her psyche and her mindstates.
Strong Production Throughout
H.E.R. mentions that this album had many songs that felt like elevated versions of songs that she did earlier in her career and when you listen to this album and then her previous work, it’s clear that she was right. The instrumentation helps provide a fantastic platform for the songs.
The production all felt modern while still creative and expressive. For an album such as this, the production definitely helped to add to the intended atmosphere through the project.
Sonically, the album brought many different elements into one and each element helped create a cohesive sounding package that was produced to a high level.
There was production from many high profile producers such as Hit-Boy, Mike WiLL Made-It, Thundercat, Darkchild, DJ Khaled, James Maddocks, Scribz Riley, and more which to no surprise helped contribute to a rich and polished project.
Vocals Were Stronger Than Ever
Sometimes, you hear projects where the production carries the artist completely. This album was not the case as H.E.R. brought the polished and high-quality vocals which you can always expect.
She brought a good presence to her songs and it’s clear that she has grown as an artist in every sense of the word. She brought emotion to each song and you could hear it. You could feel it. You could feel that she believed in every word she sang.
The project runs for a time length of 1hr 19 minutes, which is a long amount of time for any album.
The number of quality songs did make it a very listenable album from front to back but it definitely would have benefitted from there being fewer songs on the tracklist to improve the overall quality and replayability.
There were many songs that were high quality on the project but the songs which mostly stood out were the ones which had been out the longest.
‘Damage’ was a classy record that showcased H.E.R. at her finest with powerful vocals over bouncy instrumentation which all takes you into another world of peace and tranquility.
H.E.R. and Chris Brown together on ‘Come Through’ brought the vibes that we didn’t know we needed. They both brought a high level of chemistry which contributed to a hit that was both soulful and chilled. The quality of the song was no surprise following their previous two collaborations on ‘Focus (Remix),’ and ‘Come Together’, which both are hits in their own rights.
‘I Can Have It All’ featuring Bryson Tiller and DJ Khaled was also on DJ Khaled's album released earlier this year (with an additional Meek Mill verse), but that still didn’t take away from the song still being one of the stand out ones on this album as well.
Other notable songs included the triumphant ‘Find A Way’ featuring Lil Baby and the reflective ‘Mean It’ with lyrics that many can relate to — the conflict of neglecting your self-worth to find what you thought was love and affection with something you weren’t even sure was truthful about how they felt.
Overall ‘Back Of My Mind’ was a solid body of work that highly demonstrated H.E.R.'s abilities as a singer, songwriter, and artist in general.
Versatility was shown through diverse sounds and moods throughout the album, while not straying too far from the modern R&B feeling that H.E.R’s fans are used to. We’re expecting this album and songs on it to be included for awards nominations over the next year, and it will not be farfetched to see H.E.R. picking up even more awards from this.
If you haven’t listened to H.E.R before, this album is a good entry point for you to check her out, so you should definitely give it a listen for yourself.
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