Renaissance-woman, Tinashe, has just released her sophomore album Joyride, and continues to straddle the closing gap between R&B and Pop.
Numerous guest features and her first two albums, Aquarius and Nightride, established the Kentuckian model, producer, and actress as a staple in R&B’s morphing soundscape. In Joyride, (released April 13th, 2018) Tinashe sings in a seductive hush that only exceeds pillow-talk volume when she’s belting it out at full-blast.
In her two opening tracks, Tinashe sets up the album to be as its name suggests, a joyride. The opener “Keep Your Eyes On The Road,” is filled with her voice whirring past you; street racers rev punchy engines in your ears and it feels like something risky is about to happen.
The inertia carries over into the second song, Joyride’s ethereal title-track. Sweeping synths hammer out chords as a violin croons in the close.
From here, Joyride settles into a “heat on low-flame” vibe with tracks like “He Don’t Want It,” “Salt,” and “Stuck With Me,” the last of which features Swedish electronica band, Little Dragon. Each one is a slow-burn accented by spacious bass lines and synth-charged progressions.
Tinashe’s featured artists work well to color the wistful, mellow tone that she brings. Her and Future sing a well-kept duet in “Faded Love” with Future breaking into the bridge with tight, exclamatory verses and a sparing use of auto-tune. “No Drama” features Offset of Migos with the songstress showing off her soft-rap chops over a banging trap beat. Tinashe told Billboard, “He (Offset) has all these amazing ad-libs in his rap, the cadence of it always brings a lot of energy.”
With a feature from Ty Dolla $ign and French Montana, “Me So Bad” speaks for itself. The track is a dance-hall throwback with Ty Dolla $ign and Tinashe trading matte-finish verses. French Montana cuts through the silk of the other two with his jabbing flow.
There’s no question that Joyride stays consistent in theme and sound. While there was no particular part that rubbed me wrong, the thing as a whole fell a bit flat. Tinashe reinforced herself as a top-notch singer. But still there was an obvious reliance on her guests to bring the high-octane energy. This deficit wouldn’t have been so noticeable if the first two tracks weren’t framed to be a raucous joyride. Having sad that, Joyride‘s final number, “Fires and Flames,” made for a gratifying closer with Tinashe intoning in a heartfelt plea, “I wish that I could put you out/Could you, I hope you stay the night.”
Like I said at the start, Tinashe is walking that narrow line between R&B and Pop. On the surface, the two genres seem like the best pairing since avocado and toast. But between Pop’s dynamic hooks and R&B’s mellow, tempered intensity, the two seem fundamentally at odds. Joyride is ambitious in facing this challenge. And by subtitling several tracks as interludes and an intro Tinashe’s goal to make Joyride a single, cohesive piece of work comes across clear and she definitely succeeded in that.