This review is way overdue. But I just had to go through with it and say I'm speechless. Absolutely and utterly speechless. No worries, this is not a rant. I'm actually just very impressed by Lenya Wilks' debut album. The self-titled record is sultry, bubbly, jazzy, reggae-rific, and pretty much perpetual, with music you'll never stop listening to for years to come. I can't get over how much I love this album. So, yes. Once again I will say it, I love this album. But let's move on to a more calm and collected interpretation of why Lenya Wilks has one of the best reggae albums of the year.
Aside from her flawless and soul shaking voice, the words literally take you there, and the music defines a wonderful production. Summer Love starts things off in a beautiful and wanting mood. The track signifies being in love with an unknowing other, and how effortless it is to describe how exactly you feel about that person. This is the perfect love song that isn't slow but groovy enough to make you want to get on your feet. A truly wonderful opener.
Following the sexy starter is the more mellow and bluesy Better in My Dreams. There's something about this track that pulls me into the 80s. All I think of is sitting in a lounge filled with sensuality in the air and surrounded by nothing but emotional melodies. I had no idea that after one listen Better in My Dreams would turn out to be my favorite on the album, but it sure doesn't stop there. The next track is just as memorable and uniquely interesting.
Stalker exploded in my ears with its fast pace and energetic rhythms. Despite what you might think about the song based on the title, it’s not to be taken literally. Stalker, from my understanding, represents having intense feelings toward someone unintentionally. That person excites you in every way possible; no matter what you’re doing or where you go, he or she is always creeping inside your thoughts. But what I also detected is that no one has made the move to develop any kind of connection. Sounds like something we can all relate to. We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we’re so drawn to a person but can’t seem to find a way to convey our feelings. But somewhere inside our hearts we believe they feel something as well and we’re waiting for the day when they might take that step. What I love about Stalker, aside from the vibrant music arrangement, the words are sexy and realistic, and Lenya’s voice is undoubtedly passionate.
Baby Come to Me slows it down with some raw reggae melodies and vocal settlements that embodies a sense of yearning. The more Lenya sings the more I believe the message she’s emphasizing. The song’s about loving someone who’s already in a relationship but obviously one not as comforting and affectionate as what Lenya is offering. She’s aware of his loneliness and wants nothing more than to give him all the love he so deserves. A beautiful song that ignites under your skin. Once again, the lyrics are realistic and justifiable. Not a single track has been plain or forgettable so far. Trust me, one listen and you’ll agree.
The instruments soar with so much life in This is Not Goodbye, but what grabs my attention more than anything else is Lenya’s honey-like ranges. There’s not a single note that didn’t give me goosebumps. I can’t stress enough on how extraordinary the production on this album is. Every track symbolizes its worthiness. Basically, everything sells because I’m certainly buying into it.
I Hate Love is one of my favorite Lenya Wilks song ever. I’m more than pleased that it was included on her first album because I think this song exercises how talented she is as a vocalist. I Hate Love is one to move you to tears due to the message it brings. The song stresses on the pain of relationships, whether arguing or a love growing sour. The track is bittersweet but it makes sense. As beautiful as love is it can sometimes be sad. But the album doesn’t stay in this funk for too long. Old Time Love switches the mood and gets back into the sweeter side of the record. Featuring reggae artist Tarrus Riley, a man devoted to spreading love with his music, the song brings forth a feeling of joy and all elements of happiness. I’m thrilled Old Time Love is a duet because its always a plus to hear such intensity coming from the perspective of both. The intimate words are convincing and spine chilling. There’s a feeling I get from this one that’s not easy to put into words. Almost like watching your grandparents or parents caught up in a secretive but sweet memory shared between each other and no other.
Yeh Man Jamaica is a true dedication to her nation. The track defines all that the singer loves about her people and her island. And if you listen keenly to the lyrics you’ll be sincerely moved by her admiration and even get a sense of pride incomparable. Lenya loves Jamaica; she’ll make you love Jamaica with this track as well. There’s nothing else to be said other than what a great addition. But while the tone is that of appreciation for a nation, the next track goes back into relationships and a issue we all can attest to.
Cheating Eyes opens up with emotional keys and sensual drums, as it takes off into captivating melodies. The song tells the story of disloyal behavior based solely on the expressions in his eyes. One can easily say she’s being paranoid or overreacting, but the truth is one’s eyes tell more than you possibly want to reveal. Lenya fears she isn’t enough for him because his eyes keep wandering to another. The track is a sad tale but I rather enjoy listening to it because of how persuasive she sounds. I swear I cannot find one bad apple in the bunch, not that I’m seeking one out, but its rare that albums are this perfect. By the way, have I mentioned how poetically written the lyrics are? Well, that’s something else I find rather evoking.
Infatuation asks a question many, including myself, ask themselves. Is it really love you’re feeling for each other or is it simply a deep lust for one another? The words expound on the song title throughout. Lenya wonders what exactly is going on between the two and the complications of trying to figure it out. We all want it to be love because of how strong the feelings are, but often times its not. The question is, are you willing to take the risk to discover exactly what it is you’re truly feeling? This is indeed a song that makes you think. And it surely had me in deep thoughts.
The album’s strongest ballad award goes to Anytime the Heart Stops. Combined with enigmatic piano melodies, fierce r&b rudiments, and a blend of sentimental words and powerful singing, the track sails amazingly well as it symbolizes love and all that it brings. We’re all seeking that one person we’re meant to be with but Lenya sings about not always finding the right one but sometimes we discover a tiny piece of what that could feel like. Its the story of our journey to finding real love; all the heartbreaks and failed relationships along the way. But one day we just might find what we’re all searching for. This track left me gasping for air. I was honestly choked up.
Mellow tracks and heartfelt ballads aside, Lenya pumps up the tempo with Dis Love Affair, which is another favorite. I know, I know. I have a lot of favorites but what can I do I’m too in love with this album. Anyway, back to the upbeat number. Dis Love Affair will have you on your feet but not disregarding the purpose of the song. The track is fiery and vibrant as Lenya explains her situation; she’s in a long distance relationship that stirs up a lot questioning on her part. She’s definitely lonely and longing for love and evidently from my interpretation there are several factors causing her to believe the guy just isn’t being good to her. But seeing that he’s not doing the things he used to do and has changed significantly its possible he isn’t faithful after all. She blasts him at the end calling him out as a player, and highlighting the fact that while she’s missing him he’s out living his life.
The dance track Friends with Benefits has also made its way to the album. I’m neither surprised nor disappointed. I love how Lenya is versatile enough as a artist to take on genres outside of reggae. She’s demonstrated herself greatly in r&b and soul, so why not show how dance can be incorporated in her sound as well. Friends with Benefits is pretty much self-explanatory. The guy’s looking for someone to have a good time with while staying clear of commitment. Lenya makes it clear she’s not into that sort of arrangement and would like to have something more. No woman wants to be in that position, well, some might. Its batter to make it clear of what exactly we’re looking for and not compromise or complicate. Put everything out on the table; if he’s not feeling the same or doesn’t want the same thing, let it end there and leave your relationship to just friends. Someone always get hurt when you begin to indulge in such act.
Killing My Game continues a somewhat similar message present in the previous track. There’s the issue of compromising again, and complicating yourself. Lenya stands firm on what she believes in and what she’s looking for with the man. Sounds like he’s not making changes and holding her back. She’s not asking for much but he’s not delivering in any way. The songs is truthful as it goes. Progress can’t be made unless you go out and make it happen but the man isn’t making a move. She’s done so much for him but he fails to do anything for her. No wonder its called Killing My Game, Lenya can’t take the next step with him pulling her down and trampling her vibe.
The album concludes with a dedication. A song for mothers. Mothered remains as soulful and genuine as the first time I heard it. The lyrics are written entirely to give appreciation to the person who loves and support us most in life, providing comfort when our minds are all over the place. No matter our situation there’s always that special person who has our backs. Its a beautiful rendition giving thanks even though saying thanks doesn’t seem like enough. This track is so moving I can’t keep tears back while listening to it. And I believe that a song is remarkably great when it has the ability to pick at your heart. Mothered is a brilliant ending to tremendous first attempt.
How can I sum it up? I’ve said a lot in my opening remarks, but in closing I’d like to reiterate how wonderful Lenya Wilks‘ debut album is and I just can’t wait to see where she goes next. A talented artist indeed. She’s without boundaries and limitations. Lenya Wilks is truly a star risen. What more can I say or do but give her debut album a rating of 5 stars, even though there’s no rating good enough to rank how high up there this album really is.
Track Listing:1. Summer Soul 2. Better in My Dreams 3. Stalker 4. Baby Come to Me 5. This is Not Goodbye 6. I Hate Love 7. Old Time Love (ft. Tarrus Riley) 8. Yeh Man Jamaica 9. Cheating Eyes 10. Infatuation 11. Anytime the Heart Stops 12. Dis Love Affair 13. Friends With Benefits 14. Killing My Game 15. Mothered
*This review is based on the opinion of the author and doesn’t represent the views of the entire EY team.
What do you think of Lenya’s album?