True – Absolutely Open

While listening to Made of Glass, the sophomore record from alt-r&b group TRUE, I couldn’t stop thinking of Skittles, the candy. I suppose that’s because this music of theirs is so damn sweet and colourful. Listening to it is very much like eating Skittles by the handful. After you press play it’s like you can’t get get enough. The craving for more becomes compulsive almost. The irony, however, is that a vast majority of the subject matter covered, here, by vocalist Daniela Sarda, is rather bitter. It’s full of existential angst and peppered with open-ended questions. Once you get past the gloss and the iridescence of the production what you encounter are deliberations over the challenges posed by adult life. The music might suggest otherwise, but this is not escapist affair.

Close Call, clearly inspired by Prince, is about the struggle with temptations which, if entertained, could derail a long-term relationship. The heart-wrenching ballad titled Your Skin – it reminds me of Blood Orange circa Negro Swan – talks about death, the ultimate disruptive force in love and its potential and inevitable consequences on the survivors. Digital Love, which is set to a perfect mid-tempo groove, sort of hip hop, but not really, questions the reality and the very substance of our emotional connection to each other, in the context of it being created via digital technology. And then there are songs like Liberty, which celebrate freedom and a care-free mindset. They’re the type of tunes you want to bump in a droptop car at maximum volume while speeding down a country road on a sunny day with no particular destination in mind. Made of Glass, the title song, talks about an acute form of sensitivity and how it makes human contact challenging for all parties involved. I would argue that this vulnerability and openness is what permeates the entire album and defines its over-all tone.

Unlike with the previous releases, these songs were not produced by Rico Baumann, alone, but came about from Daniela and Rico meeting up and experimenting in the studio for a total of three years, which is apparently how long it took to make this LP. The collaborative nature of this material is audible in the lightness with which this music moves and how the instrumentals blend in with the vocals and vice-versa. Overall, this is a synth laden affair. Bright as hell, too! The soundscape is slippery, slinky, obese with bass and, because Rico is a class A drummer, full of essential grooves. I don’t know if TRUE can compete with the bigger names backed by bigger labels – this record is out on Mouthwatering Records – but I, personally, will always give it up to the underdog!

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