sky Explores the Intricacies of Grief in Debut EP 'good grief'
Photos: Ethan Haddox
Grief is an essential element to the human experience. Though often uncomfortable to the point of pain, the darker hues of grief paint a picture of self-growth, allowing our own life experiences to become our guru. Budding R&B artist sky explores the nuances of grief in appropriately titled freshman EP good grief.
A collaborative project released as a collective with her "chosen family," childhood friends and writer/producer collaborators Baca & Brandn, the EP lyrically and sonically mirrors the inner workings of this complicated emotion, allowing for an optimistic perspective on a universally shared experience.
The seven-track debut begins with the lead single "something tells me," featuring R&B songwriter and artist Marcus Semaj, who has penned songs for the likes of Snoh Aalegra, Giveon, Toni Braxton, and more. A tender, piano-led track featuring sweeping textures and delicate strings, the pair flows in and out of intricate harmony, musing on the feeling of being lost in love.
Picking up the tempo with the subsequent, Bossa-Nova infused track, London-based R&B artist Hope Tala joins sky in "say you love me." Encapsulating a beckoning call for clarity in combating budding relationship confusions, the pair's voices play off each others uniquely majestic tones, backed by rhythmic guitars and notes of flute.
Leading into the third track of project, sky reclaims her power in "done." Beginning with powerful statement "You're so lazy / I made it easy for you / I let you lessen me to social capital / Baby / Your disciples / Feed the cycle / Homies sayin 'she's just crazy'," sky celebrates the joy of moving on backed by the sounds of a brass filled production and a symbolic trumpet, announcing her freedom from a toxic entanglement.
With every grieving process, comes difficult realizations that metamorphose into introspective lessons. "can't change" captures these moments of sleepless, tearful nights fueled by the feeling of not getting the explanations deserved when it all comes to a halt. Reflecting on the feeling of being misunderstood from a sage point of view, the melancholic-leaning track leads perfectly to the following stand-out feminist anthem "solo". Drawing inspiration from the nostalgic sounds of 2000's R&B, sky revels in independence, stating with conviction, "Choose when I come and I go, oh / Cause I do it better than all of these gentlemen / Friends with no benefits / Can't seem to get it / They leave me regretting it / No, more / Solo, solo."
With the final title track "good grief" and outro "california," sky hones in the concept of the project, explaining how truly positive grief can be when you make it work for you. Gracefully flitting through vocal runs and various octaves, sky flexes her vocal prowess over incredibly clean yet dreamy production. With a final nod to the collective's California roots, the conclusive voice note comments on the compromises necessary to build the life you want.
A strong debut project which plays on overarching life themes while staying rooted in nostalgic sonorities, complemented by a youthful perspective, good grief solidifies sky's position as a standout in her genre and a rising artist to watch. In her own words,
"On the other side of grief, I have a refreshed, divine knowing. On the other side, the clarity and the gifts that the universe has given or I've attracted is genuinely…wild. Grief has been so good to me, because I did the work, and made it work for me. So with that, see you on the other side."
Listen to good grief below: