After the recent reunion of Danity Kane and release of the band’s new album, it may come as a surprise to many that Dawn Richard is still pursuing a solo career. But listeners are in for an even bigger surprise as you soon realize that Dawn may be striving to be the new Cher of the Vegas strip but with an urban twist. Her new electronic-inspired alternative sound on her self-released album Blackheart is a huge change from what we’ve heard with Danity Kane and Dawn’s many features with artists from Bad Boy Entertainment.
At the start of her album, Dawn’s “Noir (Intro)” displays her lovely vocal talent, which in the next track, comes up missing. The techno music leads “Calypso,” then Dawn’s hip-hop personality returns in “Blow.” This song, about the anticipation of success was somewhat confusing when being sung by an established artist like Dawn Richard. But when you factor in the heavy presence of instruments, digital sound and vocals, the song is pretty good.
Before hearing “Billie Jean,” anyone is sure to have some expectations. My advice…lose them. This is not a Michael Jackson song. In fact, it references Michael’s Billy character as a sex-crazed woman, and it becomes evident that Dawn may have confused Michael’s “Billy Jean” with “Dirty Diana.” That insinuation aside, the bold chorus says, “Billie Jean / Yea I’m a sex fiend / I’m not your girl / I’m just your wet dream.” While it does come across a little vulgar, the rhyme scheme paired with the enticing beat of the track will allow you to drown of the vulgarity and just hear music.
The album starts to take a brilliant turn once you reach the fifth track “Adderall/ Sold (Outerlude).” The brilliance dwindles in “Swim Free,” returns briefly for “Titans (Interlude)” and “Warriors,” but then “Projection” happens. What exactly is the genre of this album? Oh that’s right, it alternates. It changes on each song and then the album is finished with a pop ballad titled “The Deep” and lastly, “Blackheart (Outro),” which is basically a very long track with a trance-like synth, while Dawn Richard whispers words that you can’t quite make out. The song then gets faster and soon ends. The production was good, but is she trying to showcase the producer or herself?
As a whole, the album is inconsistent. You cannot deny Dawn’s great vocal ability or the well written verses in the songs that do actually contain lyrics. The key to a successful solo career is establishing a definitive sound, so it’s a worry that Blackheart doesn’t have one. I wouldn’t call it an epic fail, but Dawn Richard could certainly do better.