On the back of surpassing one million streams on Spotify, and being championed by the likes of NXNE, Earmilk, Lyrical Lemonade and R&B Radar, while also celebrating the success of her last single ‘That Love’, which is currently being supported by Spotify and Apple Music on coveted playlists such as ‘Fresh Finds: The Wave’ and ‘Northern Vibes’, Canadian Nigerian R&B/soul artist and songwriter ZENESOUL (pronounced ‘Zen-Soul) is excited to unveil her brand new EP BROWN SUGAR, as premiered on Complex, following her critically acclaimed sophomore project Coffee from last summer.
Thematically titled Brown Sugar purposefully to follow her Coffee project, Zenesoul’s new EP is juxtaposed against the backdrop of her previous record, which explored bitter and painful themes around love and relationships. As the Brampton native explains, “In a world filled with bitterness and heart break, ‘Brown Sugar’ is the sweet side of love. The ingredient that makes coffee more tolerable. Whether love is a fantasy or not, I’m on a journey to find out, and I am manifesting the type of love I want in my life, instead of drowning in my painful experiences”.
Opening with the introspective ‘Hurt People’, produced by whiskeyafterwork, Zenesoul confesses to wanting to let go of all the hurt and pain from past experiences, over a dense keyboard-led sparse musical backdrop that is filled by her enchanting vocals and longing lyrics. Fan-favourite neo-soul ballad ‘Love And Be Loved’ featuring Aaron Ridge, which is produced by LARUE MADE IT and has already racked up over 700,000 streams, is another vocal and songwriting masterstroke, and it sees Zenesoul opening up to the idea of love once again.
The whiskeyafterwork-produced ‘Witchu’ is a groovy neo-soul bop, which Zenesoul describes as “the honeymoon phase” and the “sweetest part” of a relationship, with Zene waxing lyrical about all the things she would want to do with her partner. By the time ‘Somebody’s Son’ and ‘That Love’ come around, Zenesoul declares that she is ready and open for love, in contrast to the trepidation on ‘Hurt People’ at the beginning of the project, even though ‘That Love’ sees her laying out her demands for the kind of love she wants, over a fitting 90’s R&B-esque soundscape.
The EP comes to a rousing conclusion with the self-realizing opus ‘Yourself’, which calls for Zenesoul to love herself first as the most important love. All in all, this Brown Sugar EP shines, not only as Zenesoul’s most musically and lyrically complete body of work to date, but also one of the best new R&B projects of the year. The soundscapes on this record are more expansive than ever, led by her influential soul music foundations and glorious R&B and neo-soul sensibilities, underpinned by an exceptional vocal performance and songwriting prowess from Zenesoul.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the Brown Sugar EP, Zenesoul says, “This is a special project for me. ‘Brown Sugar’ has been in the works since my last release ‘Coffee’, and I am so excited for the world to finally experience it. This project is the positive vibes I feel we all really needed this pandemic. ‘Brown Sugar’ is me not settling for anything less than the love I deserve, while being realistic in the energy I send out into the world. I hope the EP can help us all find this love and most importantly, help us win in the biggest relationship, with ourselves“.
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