After the success of last year's EP, Sail Out, Souled Out certainly lives up to the dreamy, soulful standards Aiko has put forth. Featuring the Cocaine 80s-assisted single, "To Love & Die," the No I.D.-produced album boasts finely tuned tracks with deep, romantic lyrics over soft guitars, drums, and synth sounds.
Souled Out takes listeners on a journey of love lost and consciousness found. In a fitting introduction to the airy sound we've come to expect, Aiko softly sings on the opening track, "She was born in Limbo / With the need to be as simple as her makers." As the album goes on, Jhené throws a nod to the 2004 stream-of-consciousness romance film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the songs "Spotless Mind" and "Eternal Sunshine," respectively. "Spotless Mind" finds the singer questioning a blissful romance in lines like "Loving you was nice / But it's a new day, a new season / I've been sad inside." The actual heartbreak happens somewhere around the passionate tracks "It's Cool" and "Lyin King." By the time "Eternal Sunshine" rolls around Aiko is crooning about "only the good things."
Before the album comes to a close, we are treated to the sweet vocal stylings of Aiko's 6-year-old daughter on "Promises," a track dedicated to her deceased brother. The closing track, "Pretty Bird," is a Common-assisted freestyle in which the California songstress gives "all she has left."
In a February interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Aiko revealed that she averaged about four songs a month while working on Souled Out. Aiko also revealed to Rap-Up that she likes to take her time when working instead of putting out "some nonsense." Fortunately, Souled Out is far from nonsense. With a slew of producers on the instrumentals (including Key Wayne, Fisticuffs and Dot Da Genius), and Jhené on the lyrics, Aiko's hard work is certainly evident in each track.
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