Mahalia – IRL

The Leicester artist's diaristic lyricism shines on a much-anticipated sophomore effort...

Mahalia is back.

The Grammy and Brit-nominated artist offers something of a love letter to herself with the release of her delicious sophomore album ‘IRL. On the album, Mahalia blends ethereal vocals with shimmering RnB synths to create a timeless and simultaneously current RnB album.

Intoxicating first track ‘Ready’ sees Mahalia’s typical ‘no filter’ approach to her lyrics, the song serving as the musician’s opportunity to assert herself as an enduring name within British RnB: “Over time people gonna try come and take my place / But nobody can take that from me / Cos I give you the music your soul needs.”

Meanwhile ‘In My Bag’ is an immaculately-produced track, exuding a quintessential charm and constructing a delightful birds eye view of her successes so far, to a finessed, bouncing beat. ‘In My Bag’ feels like Mahalia’s opportunity to reflect proudly on the successes she’s already seen in her career and look forward confidently at even greater things to come. Mahalia declares that this album, this moment, is her time: “I’ve been up down and round now I’m reaching highs / Now that I’m in my bag you can’t take what’s mine / Cos I been at it since a baby now it’s my time’.”

‘Terms and Conditions’, released earlier this year as a single, remains luminescent and an example of Mahalia’s best work. Made with fellow singer RAYE, the track features swelling, cinematic strings, a hypnotic hook and Mahalia’s classically playful delivery. ‘November’ spotlights another exciting collaboration with a heavyweight of British rap, Stormzy. Together the musicians concoct a breezy romantic ballad with wistful lines like, ‘I’ll be right there until you can’t remember / How we met that winter night back in November / I’ll be right there, I’ll be right there forever.’ Timeless and understated, ‘November’ feels universal without slipping into syrupy cliches, voices blending seamlessly together over soothing, dreamy guitars. ‘Lose Lose’ is another noteworthy meditation on love, as sugary harmonies lounge over rich guitars whilst the artist asks for transparency in a long-term relationship.

‘IRL’ ultimately sees the Leicester-born artist staying true to herself in offering a full and rich modern pop-hued RnB album, complete with her typically jocular delivery and emphatically honest, diaristic lyrics. A glittering gem amongst recent releases, ‘IRL’ sees Mahalia defining herself as a long-standing name within British RnB.


Words: Grace Dodd

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