Goldenheart Pic 1

After serving as one-fifth of one of the greatest American girl groups of the past decade (Danity Kane–RIP), followed by a turn as one-third of the short-lived, yet briefly brilliant Diddy – Dirty Money, singer-songwriter Dawn Richard is finally, at long last, getting her rightful shine as a solo star.

GoldenHeart is Dawn’s long awaited LP, a medieval-meets-modern concept record full of forward-thinking, spacey R&B production that sees the songstress suiting up and heading into battle to slay her inner demons–fighting between struggle and success, love and war, and good versus evil. Almost entirely crafted alongside constant collaborator Druski, the album fearlessly navigates through genres–from four-on-the-floor House beats (“Riot”) to seductive electro-R&B (“Frequency”) to vaguely Latin-tinged pulsations (“Gleaux”) to crushing dubstep drops (“Pretty Wicked Things”). The songs, too, blend into one another, resulting in one incredibly cohesive, meaty effort. There’s really no way to adequately describe the sound: It’s a Dawn Richard record, and by the end, you’ll know exactly what that means.

Highlights are frequent, including her most recent single “86,” a soul-bearing, slow-burning devotional backed by incredible vocals and crystalline synthesizers. There’s the unexpectedly sexy love fight “Tug of War,” which is what I imagine foreplay sounds like in space (“I don’t give a fuck now, I’mma be on top now/Show you what I’m here for”). “In Your Eyes” is an instant standout as well (which she previewed at her album pre-launch performance in October), a Phil Collins-interpolating club throbber. (She also pays tribute to Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” during the song’s intro–evidently an influence white writing this record.) The aptly-titled “Break The Dawn” will likely go on to become a fan favorite; a 6-minute power ballad that serves as a defiant fist held up in the air. “You’ll never, ever see the break of dawn/Hearts, won’t you sing it one time?” the singer calls out to her ever-loyal fanbase.

The album is a complete triumph, but perhaps most impressive of all is the fact that Dawn has carefully curated her solo career without the help of a major label. After years of shuffling in between groups, GoldenHeart–along with her incredible Armor On EP in early 2012–is Dawn’s very own creation, done entirely from the heart for her Hearts. It’s not only entirely innovative, but genuinely inspiring.

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4.5/5

You can now stream the entire album at AOL.

GoldenHeart was released on (iTunes)

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