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Fana Hues: “Hues” EP Review

Although Hues was released in December of 2020, it was a project I recently revisited with fresh ears. Subsequently, I felt called to write about it. I felt “called,” in part, as an act of defiance against the collective obsession with “newness,” and partly out of sheer guilt and shame for not having written about it in the first place.

Hues’s music is similar to that of Solange– amorphous by genre and nature, and equally captivating. Though not technically an album but rather an assemblage of previously released and unreleased tracks, Hues contains all the necessary qualities to be considered a concise body of work. My only complaint being that it seems each bite-sized interlude only leaves me wanting more of the story. A combination of next-to-perfect sequencing and, at times, jarring instrumentals, Hues carries us down a mystical path on the outskirts of society, with various obstacles and challenges along the way.

The intro, “Slippin,” serves as our call to adventure– a haunting, bluesy warning sign, begging us to turn back while simultaneously luring us further into the river. Wasting no time, we transition into “Notice Me,” the EP’s siren song and the true genesis of our expedition. Like the solace of sunlight peeking through the blanket of darkness and tree limbs overhead, Hues sings of perceived romance on “Lay Up.” With daintily melodic deep sighs, the tale of “Icarus” reminds us who is both the hero and the villain in this story.

With perhaps the most harmonious transition on Hues, we experience the first tragedy of our journey. On “If Ever,” its hair-raising instrumentation and melancholy lyrics leave us yearning for a long lost companion on this quest. The track effortlessly seeps into its foreboding successor, “Ends.” “You know how this ends, don’t you? Just like I do,” Hues sings.

Before becoming too comfortable with our new, lonely reality down on the stream, we’re reminded of treachery that’s afoot with “snakes x elephants.” We mustn’t linger too long, as Hues sings, “Snakes and elephants they crowd the room / No room for comfort / Lost all time to stop and lick my wounds, nor would I want to.” Nearing the end of our haunt, Hues ever-so-gracefully sings of heartbreak while pondering self-worth on “Desert Flower.” Then, as though we’ve abruptly woken from a poison-induced daze, we hear the EP’s deepest cut, “Death on the Vine.”

After drifting past the last rocks of the riverbed, we find our final resting place. Hues’s final track, “Yellow” is a bright, welcoming meadow. The pleasant destination serves as a reminder that traveling off the beaten path, though sometimes unnerving or intimidating, may ultimately lead to peace and prosperity. Thus, our journey is complete as we approach the meadow, having lived to tell the tale.

Jessica K
Jessica K

Jessica is a writer in her late twenties and is casually withering away in the Midwestern Wasteland of Central Indiana.

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Charlotte Day Wilson: Alpha Album Review

Sad Girl Summer is in full swing, and once again, Charlotte Day Wilson has provided a most fitting soundtrack.

The R&B singer and producer released Alpha, her debut full-length album on July 9th. Clocking in at 33 minutes with 11 tracks, Alpha showcases not only the artist’s silky voice and solemn songwriting ability, but her undeniable brilliance as a producer.

Charlotte Day Wilson, photographed by Othello Grey

“The thing that I consider myself, as more than a singer, is a producer.”

CDW, Billboard

CDW has a knack for accurately emulating otherwise difficult-to-process emotions through the layered production that she executes. Produced and written solely by Wilson, the project’s intro, “Strangers,” is a perfect example of this. The track begins with the recurring press of a single piano key, gently swaddled by an overlay of somewhat distorted vocal harmonies, as more strings bleed and blend into the lyrics: “Girl, you’ve got to listen please, as I talk in my dreams / As I speak a illegibly / Apologize if I can’t come to you coherently / As I feel this weight in me.” The song as a whole encapsulates the final gasps of forlorn one feels in a love unrequited before acceptance.


It’s almost impossible to understand just how Wilson is able to evoke such complex emotions through music. There is a natural talent there that isn’t easy to dial down to a definitive source, even for the artist herself. “It’s strange because I’m kind of a quiet person. I really don’t like public speaking; words aren’t always my friend,” the artist said in an interview with Billboard. “And then when I’m singing, for some reason I find that clarity when I’m mixing words with melodies. I find that I’m able to communicate ideas that I can’t communicate without music.”

“I don’t think a lot of women are singing about their lesbian love to R&B.”

CDW, Vice 2018

Another thing CDW would like us to be aware of is the fact that these are songs of love that isn’t heteronormative. In a 2018 interview with Vice, the artist spoke about the lack of lesbian representation in music, saying, “I don’t think a lot of women are singing about their lesbian love to R&B. I don’t know if I’ve heard that that much.” There is a void within the industry that’s slowly being filled with romantic love between women that isn’t overtly sexual nor cleverly cloaked queer bait.

She continues, saying, “If you know that I’m gay, you’re like, ‘this is a little more interesting’—there’s another layer of identity and sexuality that’s happening.” Thanks to Wilson and other artists like Syd (who is also featured on “Take Care of You“), and Deb Never, songs written about same sex love are becoming more normalized within the industry. At its core, CDW’s music can be universally understood by anyone who’s ever been lucky enough to experience the spoils of love and the growth that heartache can incur.

Charlotte Day Wilson, photographed by Othello Grey

The emotion behind “If I Could” is a testament to Wilson’s human identity, sexuality aside. Written by Merna Bishouty and produced by Wilson and Jack Rochon, “If I Could” is a stripped-down track that Wilson fancies as a letter to her younger self. “I felt a deep and immediate connection to Merna’s perspective on the desire to protect and save someone from their demons, and I was honored to collaborate with her on the song,” the artist stated in a press release for the music video. The music video features poetry by Mustafa, fellow musician and good friend of Wilson.

Although Wilson has proven her ability to create magic unaccompanied, she is no stranger to collaboration. The project features an interlude written and performed by Daniel Caesar with Wilson providing backup vocals. “…When I heard his verse just on its own with nothing underneath it, I was like, ‘This is just so powerful and would be a perfect moment in between ‘Mountains’ and ‘Changes,”” the artist told Billboard, “And I mean, his lyrics are very beautiful, and they’re personal to him, and I feel like they also speak to me, so I just felt like it fit perfectly on the record.”

Co-written by industry legend Babyface, and featuring the backing vocals of Caesar, CDW released “Mountains” in 2019. Produced by Wilson herself with additional production by D’Mile, “Mountains” is steeped in gospel and drenched in torment, making it the most emotive track on the album by far. The sound of streaming water and gentle piano keys open the track as the chorus creeps in with increasing intensity: “Up on a mountain / Search through the valley / Can you hear me calling? / Won’t you come find me?” The track is chalked full of The Good Stuff we call peaks and valleys, no pun intended.

“…it was kind of just a reminder to get out of my head and make sure I continue to actually live in the real world and not only in my head…”

CDW on “Keep Moving,” VMP

The latest single from the album, “Keep Moving” navigates the abstract minefield of subtle rejection and portrays the evolution we make from desperation to acceptance in due course. When it feels like something is slipping right through your fingertips, eventually you’re forced to come to a place of acceptance; you begin to accept that what once was is no longer, no matter how hard you may try to bring it back. “I came to collide, but you grip in case / You just wanna fall back, babe / I need you to love me like that, babe,” CDW croons on the second verse.

The track’s own production somehow captures the hesitation felt before making the reluctant decision of forward motion away from a relationship. “While you might want something, it might not be the best thing for you,” the artist said of the song in an interview with VMP. “I tend to be a cerebral person,” she continued, “and I’ll sit and think about things forever and, for me, it was kind of just a reminder to get out of my head and make sure I continue to actually live in the real world and not only in my head, and just, yeah, keep moving.”

Listen to Alpha here.