Sabrina Claudio’s highly anticipated sophomore album focuses on getting to the truth behind the necessary evils we endure when faced with situations of unrequited love. Over smooth R&B, characteristically bolstered by utterly enchanting acoustic guitar melodies and symphonic string arrangements, Claudio’s seductive falsetto shines as she poetically and emphatically elucidates her personal grappling’s with the universal emotion.
Truth Is, opens with a gripping 808-driven ballad, which facilitates the sultry songstress‘s elucidation of the feeling of being drunken in love. “Take One To The Head”, is further bolstered by a piercing, repeated guitar melody, over which the songstress almost maleficently incants “I’d rather take one to the head/ than hear the words you speak/ you know it has the same effect/ just goes down more smoothly”. From the outset, the atmospheric R&B sound Claudio brings on this track, sets the tone for an album that moves to poeticize her feelings about unrequited love.
Following, on the eponymous second track, Claudio professes her undying love for the seemingly toxic object of her affections, to the tune of spacey acoustic guitars and symphonic string accompaniment. Singing with affecting vulnerability in the opening verse the talented songstress croons, “I don’t feel you; I ripped the last page out/ I don’t even get jealous when you mention other women…I don’t”, before facing her demons on the tracks’ dynamic chorus, continuing, “truth is I’m dishonest, ‘cause I’m always scared to get too deep/[…] truth is that I love you, even when I’m trying not to”. Lyrically, Claudio highlights the familiar predicament of holding your guard up in a relationship, only to end up hiding your true self from your lover; ultimately debilitating the pivotal communication of emotions and resulting in the eventual breakdown of what could have been something special.
The albums’ sole feature comes in the form of an unexpected collaboration with Zayn Malik on the track “Rumors”. Over an 80’s inspired, ‘disco-esque‘ guiding sample, the pair monologuise the rumors they’ve been hearing about each other; “I heard that you want to be closer to me/I heard that you said you’ve seen me in your dreams”. Encompassing, this track serves as a playful and feel-good addition to the album, with a nuanced conceptuality based around yearning for your crush to notice you, and in the process, becoming engrossed in the ‘he said, she said” of it all.
Creating an impressive sonic juxtaposition over the sparse and somber acoustic guitar harmonies of “Hurt People”, Claudio attempts to untangle herself from her intention. Harnessing angelic choral accompaniment to drive forward the sentiment that ‘hurt people, hurt people’ – particularly when you’re in a situation where both you and your lover are still learning “how to love”. In the second verse she asks her significant other with fierce conviction “How could you give the kind of love I need with a broken heart?” – as she boldly illuminates the darker side of relationships that she encounters on the albums more melancholic tracks, such as “On My Shoulders” and “I Don’t Mean Too”.
On the bassy and seductive standout offering “Me In Her”, Claudio confidently professes to her now ex-lover about her uncanny replacement, “no matter what, you’ll never find me in her”. Her voice glides softly over the infectious beat, fortified by hip-hop leaning percussion, as she praises the other woman for being beautiful and independent, yet lacking one common denominator in that “all that she’s missing a piece of [her] heart” – further implying within her poeticism that the likelihood of one finding a soulmate in their lifetime is second to none. With soothing R&B, Claudio sonically captures the green-eyed monster that eats at us after we’re forced to part with a person who we thought we’d spend the rest of our lives with.
Claudio continues to nourish moving poeticism on “Problem With You”, another sonic highlight for the album, as she takes on the role of the antagonist in admitting that the problem with her is, in essence, her decision to pursue a romantic relationship with the wrong person. Asserting in her characteristic falsetto on the captivating chorus, “took a minute but I figured it out/ the problem with me is you”. The melodic Spanish guitar accompaniment creates a gorgeous soundscape, in which Claudio feels free to deconstruct how her former relationship led her to being controlling, paranoid and cold – when really those aspects of her character aren’t usually reserved for those she guises to love unconditionally. Overarchingly, the track provides glorious insight into the fact that sometimes we simply aren’t well-matched with the object of our affections, whether we think we’re in love with them or not, and that often the people we think we love the most can bring out the worst in us.
On the albums’ penultimate track and lead single “Holding The Gun”, Claudio soliloquizes upon the blind nature of trust in relationships over a glittering symphonic string sample and funky 808’s. Admitting, “I’ll make excuses/ I’ll keep all your secrets/ I will take all your bullets/even if it were you/ holding the gun”. However, the foremost soul-stirring offering on this glorious album comes in the form of the closing track, as Claudio adopts her mother-tongue to give us a gorgeous rendition of the albums eponymous second track on “Truth Is (Spanish Version)”. The Spanish interpretation gives new life to the musicality of the emotional ballad, allowing the anglophone listener to detach from the nuanced lyricism present on the track, and simply appreciate the songstresses striking vocal one last time.
Overarchingly on Truth Is, Claudio arrives devoid of ego and ready to face all the uncomfortable truths that plague the modern relationship; doing so with grace and integrity – she uncovers aspects of her emotional makeup that negatively attach her to her past lovers, all the whilst deconstructing her personal truths in learning to rise above the shortcomings of those who squander her worth, in coaxing her into situations where she’s met with unrequited love. Truth Is... there’s much to be learned from the elegant and expressive incantations of the seasoned R&B songstress on this record, and here at NBGA, we can’t seem to get enough of her irresistible sound.