An album three years in the making, Beyoncé’s 4 is a polished persona of Knowles’ progression as an artist. Retreating from her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé drew from her musical inspirations to create twelve songs that fit together quite nicely.
“1+1,” is a vigorous ballad where Beyoncé sings from the depths of her soul tapping into Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston qualities. While the song seems to drag, the lyrics are emotionally demanding, compellingly poignant and Beyoncé capitalizes on her timbre to ensure that its point is made. The sweetness of “I Miss You,” is where Knowles embraces refreshing artistic freedom. 4‘s second single, “Best Thing I Never Had,” is amazingly sung giving a sexy, yet dominating feeling.
“Party,” a summertime jam is 4‘s gem. Its production unlocks an exotic island rhythm worked on by Kanye West and Consequence amidst samples of Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick flying within it and a rap verse by Andre 3000. Beyoncé retraces a relationship on “Start Over,” a rocky ballad that is ferociously memorable, while “Countdown,” feels Destiny’s Child-ish with its hard hitting collage of instrumentation and Beyoncé switching back and forth between singing and speaking the lyrics. The Diane Warren penned “I Was Here,” is a time capsule cut where a piano accompanies Beyoncé as she reveals how she wants to be remembered when the clock strikes. The album closes with “Run the World (Girls),” a power anthem driven by Arabian and Egyptian sounding infection. It is definitively pro-female and devoted solely to striking empowerment chants in women everywhere.
4 is easily Beyoncé’s best work since B’Day. The project is an enjoyable paradise of Beyoncé’s sassy vocals blistering through a theme of sophisticated independence. Throughout its musical performance, it presents the impression that everything we’ve seen from Beyoncé thus far has been a preview and the main attraction is yet to come.
4 receives a PARLÉ
Picks: “Party,” “Countdown,” “Best Thing I Never Had”
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