Whether you know it or not, R&B is the most important genre of music in pop culture. From greats like The Beatles to modern-day pop stars, they owe their success to soul, rhythm, and blues. As a genre, the sound of R&B is important to secular music as drums and guitar. But somewhere in the 90s, the style of soulful vocals, slinky guitar, and smokey melodies gave way to hip-hop flair. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hip-hop as much as the next person, but it clearly took the place of the once great style. Rectifying that is Lauren Eylise with her new album This Is Personal, on Soul Step Records.
Growing up in Cincinnati and New York City, music has always been the driving force in her career as well as her life. Learning to convey emotion through music at an early age, put her on a path to where her lessons could flourish as art. And it has worked quite well! Not only appearing on NPR’s Tiny Desk series, but Eylise has also already shared the stage with artists as Patti LaBelle, John Legend, and Erykah Badu, appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show and won countless awards.
In many ways, her life and career have been leading up to this: her sophomore album, This Is Personal.
Aided by a live band, The Part-Time Lovers, the music from Eylise is a mixing pot of funk, blues, pop, and even hints of garage rock. Her vocals go from heart-pounding to heartbreaking within seconds. Capturing the celebratory aspects of achievement and the soul-crushing defeat of broken dreams. In the age of autotune and premade beats, the ability to maneuver between vulnerable and commanding is usually reserved for Billboard mainstays mentioned above. But Eylise not only stands shoulder to shoulder with them but maybe even surpasses them altogether!
What sets Eylise apart from the fixtures of her mainstream counterparts is her honest-to-goodness approach to her music. There are no state-of-the-art studios, Swedish producers, or a team of songwriters placing her between Beyonce and Taylor Swift. Eylise is a woman who has worked hard all her life for a dream. She has poured her heart and soul into every single note of This Is Personal. And let me tell you, it’s apparent from start to finish.
This Is Personal is more than a sophomore album, it’s a living, breathing journal of a woman’s journey.
By combining vulnerability with sonically delectable instrumentation, Eylise has given us one of the most satisfying records of the year. More importantly, it plays like a call to arms for reclaiming what R&B has always been about: Passion. With This Is Personal, I found myself moving to the bass, clenching my fists in the hooks, and crying on an invisible shoulder as Lauren Eylise shared her commentary on the human condition. Isn’t that was good music is supposed to do?
This Is Personal is currently available on vinyl exclusively through Soul Step Records, and it’s the preferred format in which I experienced it.
For more information on Lauren Eylise, please visit laureneylise.com
To purchase This Is Personal on vinyl, please visit Soul Step Records.