Yesterday was the day, the day I got to see two of the artists that have dominated my listening habits over the last few years. We’re talking years of music coming together on the same stage on the very same night back to back. I was fangirling hard, but as this is a review, I will try to keep it somewhat on the side of neutral. Who are these two artists? Alina Baraz and JMSN.
A Dynamic Artist
JMSN opened up the show and once again is rolling out music in a new genre of music. Christian Berishaj is in a state of constant reinvention and change. Every one of his albums features a unique style or sub-genre of music. I dove in deep when his self-titled LP came out in 2015, it featured 90s R&B sensibilities, yet still kept the big and airy feeling of his debut album Priscilla.
Since then, he’s created a funk album, an album that almost aired on the side of soul & gospel and now Velvet, which is a total embrace sexy 70s lounge music. However, one thing that has remained steadfast throughout his whole career is his singing style. The man can hit falsettos with the best of them and can belt out notes like it’s no one’s business. He is unapologetically creating the music he wants to and operates and releases everything on his label, White Room Records.
Left Field RnB Queen: Alina Baraz
Alina Baraz is also an artist that got her start through somewhat unconventional means. Her career started on Soundcloud where she eventually discovered Galimatias, a talented and aspiring producer. Put her vocals on one of his instrumentals (which ultimately became “Drift”), and a career was born. Over the next year, they collaborated via Facebook and eventually compiled eight songs that became the Urban Flora – EP which was a smash hit when re-released under Ultra’s label. It might be one of my favorite albums in recent years. Pretty much every song is worth a listen. Particularly “Show Me,” “Make You Feel,” “Fantasy,” “Unfold.”
Since this album, Alina pursued more solo work in singles like “Buzzin” and work that culminated in her first solo EP, “The Color of You.” Which featured another break out hit in “Electric,” collaboration with Khalid and “I Don’t Even Know Why Though.”
For the show itself, the vibes were all there. JMSN shined as the opener, absolutely belting with his voice. He featured songs from his new album Velvet and dressed the part too; he was wearing just a mesh t-shirt and swooshy slacks. He also dove into some old hits like “Cruel Intentions” “Drinkin” & “Addicted” each of those from a different era of his music.
It was then Alina’s turn. I was wondering how her solo act would translate to the main stage. I’ve seen JMSN before and knows he rolls with a live band for most of his music. Turns out Alina’s very production heavy music just needed a bigger group to make it work, and she also had a dancer to add to more production-heavy tracks such as “Make You Feel” off the Urban Flora – EP.
Overall, it was well executed, the lights and production were all these, and the nice little touches made her set come off as very solid and polished. At times, Alina struggled to get her voice over the crowd which was yelling the lyrics right back to her; it threw off the production a little. She needed her mic boosted a little; I feel like I could not hear her voice over the band and crowd at times.
However, these are just minor nitpicky things. I only had one substantial complaint about the show, and that was merely the length. JMSN was only on stage for 30 minutes, and Alina hit the one hour mark, all in all, it was an hour and half of music, it was over barely after it began, especially when it was music you liked too! But I heard almost every song I wanted to hear out of Alina Baraz’s discography.
Overall, these are two artists that I highly recommend, and their fan bases show it. They’re a devoted group that knows every single lyric, for better or worse. And sometimes they drown out the artist a little bit. Oops. However, if you haven’t yet listened to their music I highly recommend their music. Especially, Alina Baraz’s Urban Flora – EP and JMSN’s JMSN (self-titled). It’s the kind of music you get lost in.