R&B singer Goapele returns with much to offer
Since her appearance on the music scene in 2001, soul singer-songwriter GoapeleÂ (Gwa-pa-lay) remains one of the most underrated artists in recent R&B history. Her debut album Closer, while garnering respect from critics and lovers of music outside of the mainstream, went largely unnoticed, and, with an equally overlooked second album, Change it All, it seemed as though the singerâs budding careerÂ had ended before it truly got started.
Now, almost ten years after her debut, Goapele is back.
Described by Rolling Stone as the âspiritual love child of Sade and DâAngelo,â Goapele is a direct contrast to an industry where vocal talent doesnât seem to be a priority. She doesnât dance or even cradle a guitar, but she does get down to basics. Her voice, sometimes subtle sometimes gritty, doesnât sound like anyone elseâs, and it slides over her well-crafted lyrics effortlessly.
âWith this third album Iâve pushed myself to sing more outside my comfort zone,â Goapele said on her website,Â âIâm not afraid to belt or be more sensual and intimate vocally.â
Though Goapeleâs third album, Break of Dawn, actually dropped this past October, the music video for her latest single, âTears on My Pillow,â hit YouTube and VEVO Tuesday evening, revealing a classy but sexy Goapele and an abstract portrayal of lost love. The music video features smoking suitcases, awkwardly stacked chairs, and flashing light bulbs âall coming together to match the heartbreaking moodiness of Goapeleâs laid-back love song.
âTears on My Pillowâ marks the third music video from Break of Dawn and is arguably the best. The first video, âMilk and Honey,âÂ prematurely released in 2009, presented a glammed-up, uncomfortably awkward Goapele that contrasted sharply with her chill, earthy, girl-next-door image from 2002âs âCloser.â Â Â Nevertheless, the song âMilk and Honeyâ remained catchy and original enough to earn a spot on Break of Dawn two years after the video premiere.
Then came âPlay,â a more upbeat track that meshed Goapeleâs seemingly opposing images from âCloserâ and âMilk and Honey.â In the video, Goapele rocks a series of minimalist outfits while images of a contortionist, a chess game, and a writhing snake play in the background âthis girl is all about the details.
Even with apparent growth over the consecutive releases of her music videos, Goapele manages to maintain a consistency in style and attitude. Her provocative lyrics remain just as original and soul-shattering as in her earlier days, and she continues to follows a trend of heavy imagery in her music videos; instead of breaking out choreography or flashy costumes, Goapele relies on sincere facial expressions and odd representations of her lyrics, which provides food for thought as well as entertainment for viewers.
To be certain, some of her nonconformity probably results from the fact that she owns her own record label, Skyblaze.
Or, she could just be an artist with something fresh and original to say.
Goapele has tour dates planned for San Francisco this May.