over the course Four years and three albums in, Atlanta singer-songwriter Summer Walker has developed an incredible talent for detailing the murky bits of Black romance. The late 27-year-old artist Betty Wright, Mary J. Blige and K. As a student of Mitchell’s, Women Who Describes Love As Intriguingly as She Does the Fights and Misunderstandings That Tear Two People Apart. It came as a surprise when Walker announced on one of his social media accounts before releasing her Clear 2: Soft Life, “This is for my first day fans, the rest of you will be getting Auto Tune Packed Radio Joints when the album comes out.” Maybe Walker was kidding, or simply expressing the kind of ambivalence with fame that not only caused him to cancel most of his 2020 tour due to social anxiety, but occasionally signs of early retirement,
On her full-length albums, including her 2019 standout On this as well as its worthy follow-up still on top of it Walker sings in a soft and clear tone that is sometimes flattened by the heavy processing effects that typify modern hip-hop and R&B. His clean The series, which debuted in 2019, is dedicated to genuine “soul music”, as she puts it on the closing track. cool life, The arrangement features musicians as well as a number of producers such as Solo Otto and Jay Versace and hearkens to the jazz/neo-soul fusion of Robert Glasper. But it’s long been clear that Walker is a Southern soul singer who creates a world of emotion and feeling, whether she’s working with ex-boyfriend London on da track On this or simply accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. he didn’t need the live stuff clean to prove it.
cool life begins with “To Summer, From Cole (Audio Hug)”, a lyrical blessing where J. Cole turns in one of his most gracious guest verses ever. “Thank you for sharing your light, your voice and writing beautiful poems / ‘Session 32’ brings me to tears, I choke when I listen to it,” she wrote in reference to Walker’s heartbreaking 2018 single. does rap. “If people know half the pressure, they know it’s hard to be / I’m sending you and SZA and Ari [Lennox] My love.” Indeed, being an R&B artist in the world of pop and rap has never seemed so difficult. Yet, seeing how the genre is undergoing an artistic renaissance—and not just for chart-toppers like Walker and SZA Thanks, but also props to underground experimentalists like Liv.e and Keya – talk of its demise seems more a problem of perception at this point than fact. True.
The same tension revolves between reality and dreams cool life, Clearly, the EP is about finding some sort of peace after years of suffering, specifically still over it, where Walker bitterly discusses his breakup with London. “You know seeing all these Spanish and these white bitches ain’t right / Tired of living the soft life / Their feet up and they glass in hand / Paying the bill, thanks for the man,” She sings on the EP’s best track, the melancholy and sad “Hard Life.” She wonders why she and her black queens seem burdened with men’s problems. On the sensible acoustic number “How Does It Feel,” she promises revenge by getting equally aggressive about exploring her “options.” On “New Type”, she fantasises about a man who could fulfill her, then complains about her cell being bombarded with booty calls from “trick daddy-looking motherfuckers”. Meanwhile, Childish Gambino, always in actor mode, provides a seductively deep-voiced cameo as one of Walker’s “hood niggas.”
on almost every song cool life It seems like chasing a possible ideal to live by that is somewhat out of reach. But Walker is trying. She cobbles together a suite of songs that sound like sketches yet construct a compelling portrait of a young woman in transition and learning to appreciate more than just shallow “ratchet” pleasures. She reinterprets her vocals with a jazzy swing reminiscent of Erykah Badu, and even references the latter’s classic song “Tyrone” on “New Type”. She uses “pull ups” to encourage her man to get out of the car so they can focus on a deeper connection to sex. And on the final track, “Revelations of Ahead,” she simply speaks her feelings on a track co-produced by Solange Knowles, Steve Lacy, and John Carroll Kirby. Walker admits that she “cracks” to see her relationships in the dust. But no, she argues, she’s just “breaking down people who were never strong before. They’re fragile.
“At the end of that ghetto shit, we’re going to grow mentally, spiritually, physically, financially, um…emotionally,” Walker says in a calm, inner voice as she turns to better understand herself. Is craving “And we’re going to have a balance.”