Worth a listen: February 2021 in music

Audiophiles, want to know what’s up in the world of music this month? Check out my rundown below!

Dark pop songstress Naomi G upholds feminist virtues on new song “Prey”

Singapore-based artist Naomi G has released her contemplative pop single “Prey” in an attempt to reclaim greater tenure as a woman knowing her worth in a relationship. The track, invocative of Banks’ chilling despair on some notes and The Weeknd’s midnight sentiments on others, resolves itself by criticizing structural behaviors that oppress women and upholding virtues that are necessary to curb patriarchal pressures. 

As Naomi G puts it, “I wanted to empower young people who are faced with unwanted or unhealthy sexual attention that causes them to psycho-socially feel like ‘Prey’. This song is an anthem of power to those who have been gaslighted, dominated, manipulated, harassed and controlled based on their gender and looks. This song is a movement about saying no quickly and firmly, whilst understanding all the microaggressions that be before getting into any kind of deception.”

“Prey” is a brooding synth-pop jam that begins with motif-roving synths whose presence comes in forcibly and dips out in an exhale after the purposeful exercise of each line. A minimal percussion drives it, morphing into a choppy, playful, and hard-hitting stomper that’s enough to catch listener’s attention. 

The resulting musical concoction builds up into a riveting climax where dark pop, trap and hip-hop accents come together seamlessly, complementing pop feminism in its own terms. 

“Prey” is the second single for Naomi G’s debut EP which is scheduled for release over 2021.

SZA makes a splash on PH charts with hit single “Good Days

The numbers are in: SZA’s “Good Days” is officially her biggest hit to date in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world. In the country alone, the soulful single remains unstoppable with its No. 2 peak at Spotify Philippines Viral 50 and a top 15 placement at Spotify Philippines Top 50.

Over at mainstream radio, the critically acclaimed R&B songstress is performing well on several top 40 stations. This week, “Good Days” ranks No. 5 on 99.5 Play FM, a major pop station; No. 7 on Wave 89.1 FM, a rhythmic and urban-leaning station; and has gained prominent spots on Magic 89.9 (No. 23), and more.

“Good Days,” the second track following 2020’s “Hit Different,” is one of her two new headline releases since 2017’s groundbreaking multi-platinum debut, CTRL—an album that garnered significant critical attention for “laying bare the kind of vulnerability most often whispered in private” and for its “believable insights into one woman’s quest for erotic self-determination.”

Written and produced by SZA, Jacob Collier, Carlos Muñoz, Carter Lang, and Christopher Ruelas and mixed by Shawn Everett, the laid-back tune was released as a surprise drop on Christmas eve last year. More than a week after its debut, the buzzy empowerment anthem skyrocketed at No. 1 on US Spotify Streaming Chart, and has since peaked within the top 10 of other major music markets including the US, UK, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, and New Zealand.

To date, the track has racked up more than 75 million streams on Spotify and more than 20 million cumulative hits on YouTube in just a month.

Aside from its commercial triumph, “Good Days” also made an indelible impression among music critics. Hip-hop magazine, The Source praised the new song for “mastering bliss and serenity all at once.” The publication adds, “In particular, the rawness of her vocals creates an ethereal energy that dives deeper into SZA`s unmatched creativity as a songwriter.” British music bible, NME called her comeback single “worth the wait,” citing how her voice has grown more sophisticated and carefree through the years.

Elha Nympha reasserts confidence with new soulful single, “Do It”

Elha Nympha arrives with both finesse and maturity on “Do It,” her comeback single under MCA Music Inc.

Now exploring a more sophisticated take on R&B, pop, and neo-soul, the former champion of The Voice Kids Season 2 reasserts confidence and sass in delivering a romantic confession that appeals beyond her particular demographic.

When she sings, “Come on over a little closer / Take me where I’ve never been,” she takes full control of the quiet storm brewing: her voice fluttering effortlessly over dreamy arrangements and soft keyboard tones, taking the spotlight with ease.

“Do It” is a suave R&B jam that tackles the beauty of taking bolder steps when it comes to love. Upon hearing the song for the first time, Elha got excited to record the material as it barely sounds like anything she’s recorded in the past. “I’m happy with where the direction of my music is going,” the 16-year-old star said in a statement. “Do It unravels a more vulnerable side of my artistry, and this is exactly the kind of music that I want to keep making—something that is young and current, but very much me.”

“Do It” has earned comparisons with the likes of SZA, Jhené Aiko, and H.E.R., embracing the fundamental agency of womanhood and young love in all its messiness and glory. While Elha is elated with the feedback that she’s been getting from her mentors and music listeners, she wants to forge a path of her own and make music that is distinctly a product of her own sense of style and adventurousness. The promising pop sensation admits, “As a fan, I can definitely see myself doing the same kind of music. But there’s more to my sound than being pigeonholed into a category. For now, I’m ready for where this journey would take me, musically. I’m definitely looking forward to creating something that is original and unique.”

SB19’s Justin De Dios stars as Alex Bruce’s love interest in “Yakap” music video

SB19 fans (or A’TIN) are in for a treat as their very own Justin De Dios makes a surprise cameo in the music video of Alex Bruce’s endearing bop “Yakap”—released on February 5 (Friday) on video-sharing platform, YouTube.
Justin De Dios portrays Alex Bruce’s love interest in this visual spectacle filled with incredibly surreal and romantic scenes. “It’s a fun and creative concept,” De Dios said. “I really like the fact that the MV showcases both the ‘maangas’ and cute sides of Alex.”

Appearing like a P-pop charmer that Alex Bruce has been pining for in her dreams, De Dios was seen exchanging smiles with the young hip-hop sensation, sharing cute moments together as they engage in pillow fights, fake tattooing, and other onscreen activities.

According to the R&B/hip-hop star, working with Justin De Dios was totally fun, especially given how friendly and warm he is with everyone on the set. Alex Bruce fondly shares in a statement, “I’m really into Korean dramas, and Justin somehow looked the part: innocently good-looking and very much charismatic. As a leading man, he really shone effortlessly in terms of acting, and gave us the kilig that we truly deserve.”

De Dios returns the favor by praising Alex Bruce’s artistry and talent. “I am really impressed with her skills. I wanted to introduce her to A’TIN as she could be a source of inspiration for a lot of young dreamers too.” He recounts how Alex was very shy during their first meet, but as the shoot went on, they eventually got along very well. “She’s an interesting kid, and we had a lot of fun talking to each other about random things. One thing I also noticed while working with her is how close she is to her parents. It’s very adorable!”

Alex Bruce is grateful to the production for allowing her to showcase some of her personal artworks and Beanie Boos collection. “I love owls, so there’s plenty of them in my shelf—as seen in the music video. I had a great time drawing and showcasing my artworks for the very first time. I hope it won’t be the last.”

“Yakap” was penned by Bruce as a tribute to young love, and was conceived as a three-way collaboration featuring the fourteen-year-old teen star, her Australia-based dad, and music producer Cursebox. The song garnered significant attention in late October 2020 for its infectious pop sensibilities and to quote Rappler, for its “first brushes at puppy love.”

Foo Fighters release tenth studio album: Medicine at Midnight

Foo Fighters have finally released their highly anticipated 10th studio album, Medicine at Midnight under Roswell Records/RCA Records.

Following delays due to the unprecedented challenges of releasing an album during the pandemic, Medicine at Midnight finally landed late last week with nine tracks of power-driven, anthemic rock tunes that drummer Taylor Hawkins described as more “pop-oriented” than previous releases.

On its first day, the American rock band’s latest record peaked at No. 1 on several iTunes album charts worldwide, and is raring for one of rock music’s biggest debuts on major music markets this year, including the United States, UK, Australia, and more. It also garnered significant traction from several music publications worldwide, with Wall Street Journal calling it “one of Foo Fighters’ best albums of this century,” and British music publication, NME declaring the new release as “the soundtrack to the summer we all crave.”

Medicine at Midnight’s release wraps up Foo Fighters’ week-long partnership with Spotify, which featured surprise ‘Midnight Drops’ of exclusive video, audio, and playlist content— an occasion marked by the band’s larger than life appearance on Spotify’s Times Square billboard.

To celebrate the release of their new album, the Foo Fighters will host a special six-part radio series: Medicine at Midnight Radio on Apple Music Hits. Each band member will host an hour-long episode where they’ll explore their personal inspirations and reflect on the creative process behind the album. Fans can tune in every day next week, beginning Monday, February 8th at 4:00p PST on Apple Music Hits at apple.co/FFRadio and simultaneously on the band’s new limited-run SiriusXM channel, Foo Fighters Radio (channel 105). Dave also joined Zane Lowe on his daily Apple Music 1 show earlier this week to chat about the album.

Medicine at Midnight is produced by Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters, engineered by Darrell Thorp and mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent.

Foo Fighters are Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee.

YouTube sensations Agassi Ching and Jai Asuncion star in Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga” music video

Content creators Agassi Ching and Jai Asuncion are featured in the latest music video of Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga.”

The onscreen and offscreen love team amassed a fandom in social media with pranks, viral videos, and challenges. In “Siguro Nga,” JaiGa—as they are popularly known for—portray a fictional romantic couple in disarray.

According to the band’s vocalist and guitarist Yael Yuzon, Agassi is a dear friend whom he plays basketball with every Tuesday. “I also produced the song he wrote for Jai during the stricter quarantine period through file sharing,” he said. “I also watch their daily vlogs. On some level, I felt like I was always involved in their love story. It just made sense to cast them.”

The video shows Agassi Ching singing “Siguro Nga” in a neon-lit karaoke bar, while Jai Asuncion is in the very same room with friends, silently crying and hurting inside. Separated by their own version of realities, both characters try to move forward with the changes in their respective lives, albeit having a difficulty wiping out their memories together—especially with the song forever binding them in spirit.

“A person’s go-to videoke song says so much about who they are and what they are about,” Yuzon reveals. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

Guitarist Armo Armovit shares that the visual treatment focuses on honoring people who are no longer present by living lives with meaning and memory. “We want them to feel nostalgia for a person in their past who was a meaningful presence in their lives; sadness for the loss, but also, hope for the future.”

The music video also comes with a meta-karaoke version of the track that allows fans to sing their hearts out and engage with the narrative.

Inspired by the hit K-drama, StartUp, Sponge Cola’s “Siguro Nga” was written by Yael Yuzon as a tribute to one of its beloved characters, Han Ji-Pyeong. Its lyric video features various footage from Seoul, South Korea that includes locations from the series.

Zack Tabudlo maps his music journey with new single “Iyong-Iyo”

The beginning of Zack Tabudlo’s Island Records journey saw the young singer-songwriter going full speed ahead. His song ‘Sigurado’ hit the Top Viral PH charts and stayed there for four weeks, following its feature in the online series Your Home. There’s also ‘Cruel,’ whose music video was released a few months ago and has racked up more than 70,000 views on YouTube and more than 240,000 streams on Spotify.

Zack’s biggest single to date, the first one under Island Records Philippines, is the sultry ‘Nangangamba,’ whose play count on Spotify clocks in at over a million streams.

And Zack shows no signs of slowing down, as evidenced by his latest single ‘Iyong Iyo.’ Written by Tiny Corpuz and performed by Zack Tabudlo, ‘Iyong Iyo’ sees Zack putting it all on the line and giving everything—literal possession. “Kahit pa ba sa kabilang buhay, ‘di maglalaho,” he croons in the glimmering chorus, showcasing his lyrical penchant for themes like romance and longing. Gentle harmonies and mellow instrumentation make you feel like you’re floating, and allow Zack to flex the upper register of his vocal range, his high notes triumphant and sincere.

“I was really in touch with making the album art of the song as well, having a Halloween-like ghost costume in it which shows a person under a white cloth with holes in it, but has this heart glowing from his chest,” says Zack. “He wants to be like the ghost to really feel the same connection, with his heart glowing, symbolizing how much love he feels for the ghost.”

According to Zack, the song was inspired by the original Thai song for the “Let’s Fight Ghost” series, which is set to air on March 2021. The acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer shares, “I wanted to take it to a different world with different styles and vibe compared to the original. It has a very slow blues-pop feel to it production wise. I wanted to go for something mellow having the foundation from the original one but has a “slow dance” feel to it instead of going full ballad.”

Ben&Ben surprise listeners with Valentine’s-themed track “Inevitable”

Filipino folk-pop outfit Ben&Ben have officially dropped a soaring new single called “Inevitable” this Valentine’s Day via Sony Music.

Inspired by recent events surrounding the band’s lives, their latest song encourages listeners and music fans to live in the moment freely and truthfully without the need to succumb to expectations.

Ushering into a reinvigorating sense of calm, the empowering track ascends to a place where love can be inevitably beautiful even in its simple, unassuming terms. It was written by Paolo Benjamin (lead vocals and acoustic guitars) during a random afternoon run by the beach near the place where Ben&Ben live—coming into fruition after a solitary moment spent with nature and the spiritual force above him. Paolo reflects, “Inevitable is a song that tries to describe the nature of fate, and how all our actions somehow lead us to some better place that is destined for us. It’s also a song about being real with someone, and that no matter how scary that may seem at times, there is freedom in bearing your truest nature with someone dear to you, even if that someone is yourself.”

Production-wise, Ben&Ben retain the sonic hallmarks of their prior releases, while employing ultimately rewarding experiments in texture and tone. Its ‘world music-meets-acid jazz’ sound displays the band’s newfound musical direction, melding sporadic bursts of colors with their otherworldly approach. Thanks to the song’s eclectic blend of sitar-sounding riffs, propellent rhythms, jazzy chords, and ethereal arrangements, the nine-piece band ventures beyond the confines of their radio-ready sound without alienating the distinct pop sensibilities that made their songs a streaming and crossover hit in the Philippines, and elsewhere in Asia.

“The songwriting in itself presents a concept of the state that is both a surreal mystery and a peaceful certainty, so we wanted to create an aural representation of what these lyrics felt like,” Miguel Benjamin (lead vocals and acoustic guitars) reveals in a statement. “Our process started with a mix of acoustic guitars, which I tweaked with sitar effects as the main intro riff; kind of like a representation of the two contrasting feelings working together. We then built everything around this contrasting union with Jam’s drums and Agnes’ bass carrying the steady base of the song, and then Pat’s piano, Poch’s electric guitar and pads, Keifer’s violin, Andrew and Toni’s percussions; Andrew, Miguel, Poch, and Toni’s backing vocals, and some ambient sounds.”

Unlike their usual process where the members of the band jam their song a few times before recording the material, “Inevitable” was born out of a shift in production perspective. “With this song however, we decided to record a demo individually then went to record our parts a few days after without knowing how the song would sound like in the end,” Poch Barretto (lead guitar, backing vocals) said. “During the time we were creating the song, one of our bandmates, Toni, was also recovering from a major surgery and had to record her parts from home. Thankfully she was able to send her parts on time with the help of our producer.”

Despite the several challenges during its recording phase, “Inevitable” ended up reaping significant attention before its actual release. The song eventually made it as the official theme of Smart Communications’ newest commercial ad featuring Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin—stars of the highly acclaimed and popular Korean drama, Crash Landing on You. Patricia Lasaten shares, “Many of us are mega fans of the CLOY couple, so this is definitely a dream collaboration with Smart. We can’t help but be kilig and at the same time wish that our co-fans who would hear the song would also connect it with the evolving story of Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin. It’s also our gift to the fans, and to the couple as well. We’d like to thank Smart for this amazing opportunity.”

Details provided in recent press releases.

Filipina-Singaporean R&B star Gail Belmonte channels personal heartbreak on new single “Restart”

“Restart” is the most personal of Gail’s releases so far, and takes a slower pace, music-wise.

Filipina-Singaporean singer-songwriter Gail Belmonte has finally dropped “Restart,” her last release for 2020. The electro-R&B ballad caps off a trio of singles that mark her debut as a solo artist signed under Umami Records. 

“Restart” immerses listeners into a harrowing tale of breakup and romantic dissolution. Written by Belmonte based on personal experience, the poignant track dissects a kind of love that the singer-songwriter thought was the only thing that she’ll ever get to have. “It was deeply upsetting at the time but I learnt so much, including the fact that there will be new beginnings, even if it seems like it won’t be happening anytime soon or in the ways we want,” reveals Belmonte.

“Restart” is the most personal of Gail’s releases so far, and takes a slower pace, music-wise. A steady 808 kick plays throughout the song, while the mood flows with a more sober approach. “I wanted this to be like the sound of a heartbeat, grounding the song musically from start to finish,” shares Gail. 

“Please, don’t forget one thing – it’s to remember me. I’ll love you for eternity”, Gail sings at the end of the bridge, and reflects, “those words seem to stop time for me for a little while. They really highlight the weight that love and heartbreak hold.”

Gail is currently working on her self-titled debut EP scheduled for release in 2021, as well as an upcoming collaboration with R&B singer Angelo Martinez on an acoustic EP.

Listen to Restart via Umami Records

About Gail Belmonte

R&B/soul singer-songwriter Gail Belmonte makes music full of heart, with a voice that radiates beauty and effortless delivery.

Born and raised in Singapore, of Filipino descent, Gail Belmonte loved singing and performing from an early age and has been practising professionally from the age of 18. Gail was champion in the vocal solo category of Singapore talent competition Impresario 2016, a finalist of China Super Vocal 2016, a finalist in Mediacorp Singapore’s The Final 1 (2013), and also appeared in Season 4 of ABS-CBN’s Pilipinas Got Talent (2016). Gail made her theatre debut in Pangdemonium’s staging of the Tony award-winning musical, Fun Home, in 2017.

Gail Belmonte has featured on tracks by artists like fulses, thecolorfractal, Fingerfunk and Tim De Cotta, and is finally ready to put out her own music with 3 singles planned for release in 2020 via indie label Umami Records, in which she explores the effects of love, heartache, falling apart and putting yourself back together again.

About Umami Records

Umami Records is a Singapore-based indie record label founded in 2013. Much like the “5th taste” reputation of its namesake, the label strongly believes in discovering new, interesting sounds that run underground and away from the mainstream. The label’s tight-knit, curated roster includes releases from Linying, The Steve McQueens, brb., Evanturetime, CampFire, Martin Baltser, Phoria, Oriental Cravings, and more.

Image and details provided by Umami Records in a recent press release

Alex Bruce drops infectious new jam “Yakap”

It’s been a very challenging year for the music industry in general, but not for Filipina rapper Alex Bruce, who continues to enjoy commercial and critical plaudits—thanks to her slickly produced, empowering anthems.

Her Wish 107.5 Bus performances of “Mind As A Weapon” and “Pull It Off” have garnered more than a million hits respectively, while the latter earned the young prodigy a record for the youngest female artist to have scored a top 3 on Wave 89.1’s weekly chart. To top it off, the 13-year-old rapper/songwriter has recently teamed up with global hitmaker August Rigo, whose songwriting and production credits include BTS’ “Black Swan” and Justin Bieber’s multi-platinum album, My World 2.0, for the trap banger “Go Crazy.”

With barely two months left for 2020, the feisty newcomer isn’t showing any signs of slowing down with the release of “Yakap,” an endearing love song in hip-hop/R&B form.

Intricately laced with dreamy atmospherics and infectious beats, “Yakap” finds Alex Bruce dealing with her first-hand experience on puppy love and infatuation. Her latest single plays out like a simp-worthy jam: thematically appropriate for Alex Bruce’s age, but charismatic enough to sweep listeners off their feet.

“Yakap is all about my crush,” the bubbly newcomer fondly shares the inspiration behind the urban jam. “Well, if you guys didn’t know, I’m 13 turning 14 this Christmas, and like a normal teenager, I started to experience weird things like puppy love. So for me to express my feelings, I wrote a song about this person.”

The song was a three-way collaboration with Alex Bruce, her dad, who is currently in Australia, and music producer Cursebox. The songwriting, recording, and production were done in a span of two weeks, with the involved heads brainstorming and working together though Zoom meetings to discuss matters related to the new track. Alex adds, “Sometimes it’s hard because I have online class and it’s still very different from homeschooling that I’m used to. I’m still adapting to this kind of set up, all of us are.”

For what it’s worth, “Yakap” truly has the makings of another game-changing hit. It’s another testament to Alex Bruce’s incredibly compelling talent as a rapper, singer, and lyricist—a triple-threat that will surely go to places in the many years to come. 

Yakap” is now available on all digital platforms worldwide via Sony Music Philippines.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

Filipina-Singaporean singer-songwriter Gail Belmonte reclaims her happiness on new single “You Don’t”

A song about knowing one’s worth

Following her well-received debut single ‘Tonight’ in July, Filipina-Singaporean singer-songwriter Gail Belmonte chronicles her struggles of reclaiming happiness on her new single “You Don’t”– released today on all digital platforms worldwide via indie label Umami Records.

“You Don’t” tackles the importance of not taking anything for granted, but at the same time knowing one’s worth. “In the relationships I got involved in, romantic or platonic, I always gave so much of myself,” the R&B artist says. “Sometimes I would give so much of myself that when these relationships break down, I would feel so lost, like I lost a part of myself. I looked for happiness in other people and it was not until I wrote this song, that I decided to reclaim that happiness by finding it within myself.”

A rallying cry for self-discovery, “You Don’t” endears listeners with its compelling, soulful delivery and radio-ready pop hooks. It’s the second of a trio of singles Gail Belmonte is debuting in late 2020. The last of the series, ‘Restart’, is scheduled for release on 13 November.

About Gail Belmonte

R&B/soul singer-songwriter Gail Belmonte makes music full of heart, with a voice that radiates beauty and effortless delivery.

Born and raised in Singapore, of Filipino descent, Gail Belmonte loved singing and performing from an early age and has been practising professionally from the age of 18. Gail was champion in the vocal solo category of Singapore talent competition Impresario 2016, a finalist of China Super Vocal 2016, a finalist in Mediacorp Singapore’s The Final 1 (2013), and also appeared in Season 4 of ABS-CBN’s Pilipinas Got Talent (2016). Gail made her theatre debut in Pangdemonium’s staging of the Tony award-winning musical, Fun Home, in 2017.

Gail Belmonte has featured on tracks by artists like fulses, thecolorfractal, Fingerfunk and Tim De Cotta, and is finally ready to put out her own music with 3 singles planned for release in 2020 via indie label Umami Records, in which she explores the effects of love, heartache, falling apart and putting yourself back together again.

About Umami Records

Umami Records is a Singapore-based indie record label founded in 2013. Much like the “5th taste” reputation of its namesake, the label strongly believes in discovering new, interesting sounds that run underground and away from the mainstream. The label’s tight-knit, curated roster includes releases from Linying, The Steve McQueens, brb., Evanturetime, CampFire, Martin Baltser, Phoria, Oriental Cravings, and more.

Image and details provided by Umami Records in a recent press release.

Sabby Sousa takes the spotlight with new single “Emerald”

Toronto-based artist Sabby Sousa taps into something nostalgic and exhilarating on her new single “Emerald”—out today on all digital platforms worldwide.

Despite its openness to tackle a romantic relationship gone astray, the smooth R&B song inhabits an optimistic headspace that values emotional maturity over impulsive demeanor.

With her syrupy vocals complementing the track’s atmospheric sonic backdrop, Sabby remembers her past relationship fondly, setting aside bitterness for a peace of mind. “I had gone through a breakup and didn’t want to write anything sad or angry,” the teen-pop sensation shares. “I wanted to remember what it felt like in those moments and hold them close. It reminded me that not all relationships are meant to last forever. What lasts forever is the memories you make. So live life to the fullest.”

Unlike her viral bop “Cream n’ Frosting,” which hit more than two million streams on all music platforms and landed on Spotify Viral 50 charts in the Philippines and Malaysia, Sabby’s smoky new track establishes her more introspective side as both a singer-songwriter and a vocalist.

This time, she mines a wistful narrative straight from a journal entry: confessional in form and function, but also hopeful in the way it was written and delivered.

“There’s a lot of electric guitar and synths that make the song so dreamy,” Sabby Sousa adds. “I would definitely say, it’s a lot different to previous songs as it marks the beginning of a new sound for me.”

“Emerald” is produced by House of Wolf, a rising French-Canadian electronic duo who has worked with the likes of Cheat Codes and Carlie Henson.

Recorded in August last year, the infectious jam sounds like a star turn from a young artist who is now ready to take the spotlight and make a lightning strike, one more time.

Image and details provided in a recent press release.

John Legend’s new album, Bigger Love celebrates Black Culture and Pride

Multi-platinum artist John Legend is slated to drop his sixth studio album, Bigger Love on June 19 (Friday) via Columbia Records.

On a lengthy Instagram post, the Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT) winner reveals that Bigger Love was written and produced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the #BlackLivesMatter protests happening around the world. According to him, the upcoming album is a “celebration of love, joy, sensuality, hope, and resilience” and an important showcase of what makes black culture so influential and empowering.

“It’s important for us to continue to show the world the fullness of what it is to be black and human,” John Legend takes pride. “Through our art, we are able to do that. I’m under no illusion that music can save the world or solve the world’s problems, but I’ve always turned to music to help me through tough times and I know many of you have done the same.”

His new album, Bigger Love features 16 soulful, R&B-laden, and pop-influenced tracks, and includes guest spots and collaborations with Gary Clark Jr., Jhene Aiko, Koffee, Rapsody, and Camper. It is executive produced by Raphael Saadiq—the award-winning neo-soul artist who co-produced two of the most critically acclaimed albums of the last two decades: Solange’s A Seat At The Table and D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

The All Of Me singer-songwriter dedicates his upcoming record to his wife, his family, and “the rich tradition of black music that has made me the artist I am.”

The album’s focus single is “U Move, I Move,” a duet featuring Jhene Aiko. With its velvety harmonies, lush arrangements, and an inescapable chorus, the R&B slow jam embraces the emotional range and vulnerability of both artists, taking listeners to a place of romantic high with just the right amount of warmth. Upon hearing the track, Legend’s wife, multimedia star Chrissy Teigen tweeted, “One of my favorite ones is one with @JheneAiko. Why don’t u guys just get fuckin married.” The tweet has racked up more than 40,000 likes and a thousand retweets.

For more information about the album, please visit: www.johnlegend.com.

About John Legend

Critically acclaimed and best-selling artist John Legend has garnered eleven Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, and an Emmy Award, making Legend the first African-American man to earn an EGOT.

He has released six celebrated albums including, Get Lifted (2004), Once Again (2006), Evolver (2008), Love in the Future (2013), Darkness and Light (2016), and A Legendary Christmas (2018). Legend starred in NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” in 2018, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special and nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor (Limited Series). Legend joined “The Voice” for Season 16 (2019), winning with his mentee Maelyn Jarmon and is currently a judge on Season 18.

John is a partner in Get Lifted Film Co., serving as an Executive Producer for “Southern Rites,” “United Skates,” WGN America’s “Underground,” and films “Southside with You” and “La La Land.” As a philanthropist, Legend initiated the #FREEAMERICA campaign in 2015 to change the national conversation surrounding the misguided criminal justice policies in the US and to end mass incarceration.