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  • Break Of Dawn

    Goapele's newest project, Break Of Dawn is poised to take her to an even higher level. This time around the Oakland soloist, with the voice of silk and smoke, is going bigger. “With this third album I’ve pushed myself to sing more outside my comfort zone,” Goapele reflects. “I’m not afraid to belt or be more sensual and intimate vocally.” At Prince’s suggestion she even started recording alone to capture her most honest emotions and inflections, unfettered by self-censorship. You’ll be surprised to hear the sultry power that emerged.

    Her voice is bigger, the pulse stronger and the hits sure fire. With production from the likes of Kanye West, Drumma Boy (Young Jeezy, TI, Rick Ross, Gucci Mane), Bobby Ozuna (Raphael Saadiq, D’Angelo, Anthony Hamilton), Jeff Bhasker (Jay-Z, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Rhianna), Bedrock (The Jacka, B-Legit) and others, she is compiling a diverse album that fuses her insightful song writing with big, soulful, A-List production. Goapele’s voice is always smooth, but there is a new power and confidence to her forthcoming album that balances out the coy sensitivity she often seduces us with. It seems motherhood and music have conspired to birth a bold femininity she is eager to strut. “Over the past couple years, I had a daughter, I lost some loved ones, and the world has shifted. And somehow I'm more open.”

    She will undoubtedly surprise many who think they know what to expect from a Goapele release. This time around she’s crowning the soulful heartbreak and rumbling soliloquies of her previous albums with epic synths, old school feel good and a bolder voice. Break Of Dawn doesn’t linger on R&B’s lackluster clichés, it hypes you up, kicks you in the stomach, drives you to tears, and then reels you back in on a sunny Sunday morning. Don’t get it confused, Break Of Dawn is not a cure-all to the pixie stick and corn syrup world of R&B. It does not even carry with it a cease-and-desist order on all pigeon holed neo-soul categorizations. But it is pure Goapele, from the tearjerkers to the boom-bap ballads. She has somehow fashioned a body of work that can ignite arenas, rattle license plates and rub you down all at once. That isn’t easy to do, but for Goapele, it’s just the beginning… all over again.

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  • Change It All

    For her Change It All, Goapele returned to her Bay Area roots to craft an artistically challenging sophomore set inspired by her recent experiences both in and out of the industry. The album was recorded largely at her Skylight studios in Oakland with a combination of old friends Jeff Bhasker, Mike Tiger, and Amp Live, and fresh collaborators like the production team Sa-Ra Creative Partners (Jill Scott, Bilal), veteran producer Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguilera), Bay Area hip hop producer Bedrock (E-40, the Team) and fellow soulster Dwele.

    “It was really important to me to work with the people who helped me with my first album," Goapele says of her long-term and frequent collaborators. "We know where each other is coming from, so there's already a strong foundation to create from. And we’ve all come along way since we made “Even Closer”. Jeff [Bhasker], for example, co-wrote and produced the title track of The Game’s album, ‘The Documentary,’ last year, so I was really excited to come back together in the studio with them and share our new skills and experience.”

    The result is a collection of love songs and politically and socially inspired songs that remain true to Goapele's firmly planted soul roots while allowing her to branch out in a number of exciting, new directions. Songs like the emotive "Darker Side Of The Moon" and "Love Me Right," with its electro-pop funk, show Goapele taking aesthetic risks while staying true to her signature sound.

    "What I am happy about was that I don't feel like any of the collaborations were forced," says Goapele. "They were connections that were already there, and we were just waiting for the right time to work together.”

    Goapele collaborated with Linda Perry on "Darker Side Of The Moon," a ballad that reflects her ability to travel far beyond the borders of traditional R&B while strengthening the core values of sweet soul music.

    "I met Linda at one of my shows in LA," says Goapele of the collaboration with Perry, "and we talked about the possibility of working together. Although I was a fan of her music, I really didn't know how our styles would mesh, but I’m really proud of what we created together. ‘Darker Side’ was inspired by Pink Floyd, who I had recently become a fan of and had been a favorite of Linda’s for years.”

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  • Even Closer

    Even Closer is a reworked version of Goapele's limited release debut, Closer, with five additional songs: "Ease Your Mind" (featuring Pep Love), "Got It," "The Daze" (featuring Zion I and Casual), "Back to You," and "Red, White & Blues" (an anti-war song featuring a blistering guitar solo by Errol Cooney). It showcases Goapele's sultry, cascading voice with relatively sparse vocal arrangements and the contributions of producers such as Amp Live, Jeff Bhasker, Eric Krasno, and Mike Tiger, who help create a smooth, tasty mixture of soul, hip-hop, jazz, and occasional touches of other styles.

    Goapele navigates this potpourri quite adeptly, although the album does tread a thin line between appealingly eclectic and insufficiently cohesive; fortunately, she has enough talent, including a sufficiently distinctive vocal personality, to pull it off. The words tend toward lyrical and enigmatic, but occasionally they are effectively straightforward and to the point (e.g., "'Cause you're so f**k'n romantic/I can't stand it" from "Romantic"); Goapele also manages to tackle social/political issues without getting too preachy. However, some may wish her social protest lyrics were less vague and more incisive. Nonetheless, this album is worth a listen if you enjoy contemporary soul. (Todd Kristel, All Music Guide)

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