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Dawuna follows that insane ‘Glass Lit Dream’ album with a stunning 3-track whitelabel, burning thru R&B's resinous ash with lilting, minimal production and a neo-soul glow. Some of the best music we’ve heard this year - of any description - essential if yr into anything from Prince/Camille to Coby Sey/Tirzah x Nearly God x D’angelo
The opening moments of 'white boy' define the whole of "EP 1": a pitched-up sample of Black Panthers chanting "no more pigs in our community" looped into an unimpeachable demand. Skip past it at your peril, it's a historical remnant from the tail end of the US civil rights movement that grounds Dawuna's music in tangible real-world politics at a time when police are still unremittingly exterminating unarmed black men across the USA and beyond. Close to a minute later, a brittle pinprick rhythm rattles beneath Dawuna's unmistakable croon and a low, growling bassline, with the lightest, most evocative drones as accompaniment.
Lead track 'baby boy' is even stronger, matching a svelte, dismantled trip-hop shuffle with one of Dawuna's craziest vocal performances to date. It's impossible not to fantasise about Prince on this one - the layered, panning vocal transposed and deployed in multiples, like Bob George and a Camille production merged into one of the most immersive pieces of soul music you’ll likely ever hear. Dawuna's vulnerability transports the sound into 2022, offering a level of melancholy that feels funereal, mourning the broken promises of the past.
The sentiment carries into the heartbreaking finale 'yout done tried', a deliriously lo-fi stepper that sounds like a ‘Baduizm’-era Erykah demo dubbed to overworn tape. Dawuna's vocal is pitched and distorted before being chipmunked for the chorus, crying over bone-dry acoustic drum bumps and gut-piercing sine wave warbles. It's a sensual lullaby for the modern age.