If you’re looking for the perfect soundtrack to help get you through those end-of-summer blues, TDE’s king of R&B SiR has got you covered with the release of his third album “Chasing Summer”. An illustrious record which serves to detail the rising star’s musical evolution since blessing us with last year’s sophomore “November” – this time around it’s a star-studded affair, with contributions from Kendrick Lamar and Lil Wayne, to the legendary Jill Scott. Across the project, SiR moves to divulge a plethora of perspectives on love, in amongst experimenting with atmospheric R&B to create soundscapes reminiscent of the summer season. It’s laid-back neo-soul with nuanced Jazz and R&B sensibilities, and with each track blending seamlessly into another, it’s safe to say SiR has been successful in delivering another well-rounded work of art.
Chasing Summer begins with an atmospheric R&B offering which relies heavily upon instrumental dissonance to create a soundscape reminiscent of plane travel. The instrumental is bolstered by its clever opening element, which comes in the form of a muffled commentary from a pilot preparing his passengers to deboard after a long flight. Hair Down can only be interpreted as a reference to SiR’s metaphorical landing in the contemporary neo-soul and R&B scene’s over the course of his last two albums and EP’s respectively, as he coolly intones “I was just a n*gga with some hoop dreams/now, I’m in the league b*tch/now I’m in the lead b*tch” . The guiding narrative for the track then crystallizing on the infectious refrain, as SiR admits, “baby I’m just trying to let my hair down/everybody’s watching I’m aware now/ but I can’t find a reason I should care now” in reference to his newfound notoriety.
All this before his prolific label-mate Kendrick Lamar appears, matching SiR’s laid-back disposition as he raps about how forgetting about what you have at home, and instead aspiring to live in *Calabasas is ultimately futile (Calabas‘ ain’t the move, that’s where everybody live/ plus the mountain is hot, you forgot what you got) – further guiding the tracks grounding sentiment. It’s a brilliant opener, which serves to drive forward the important contextual message that this album lives in California – SiR’s native city otherwise known as the Sunshine State – where you can chase summer and blow through trees all year long; if that happens to be your prerogative.
On the following track, “John Redcorn”, SiR addresses loneliness in relationships, employing the persona of a character from Fox’s animated series “King of The Hill” – the only indication of this included in the songs’ somewhat cryptic title. It has a traditional R&B feel, driven by a cutting hi-hat and warm diminutive guitar chords as SiR laments on the infectious chorus, “alone, every night alone/why am I alone? I wanna know that you want me too/ am I wrong?”. This conceptual silver-lining continues to develop on the following track “You Can’t Save Me”, as SiR becomes increasingly vulnerable about wanting someone he can’t have to the tune of melodic trumpets and syncopated drum patterns. He admits that he met a good girl at the wrong time, singing about the object of his affections, “I knew you were a good girl/It’s all I ever fall for/ the girl I’d lose it all for”, continuing to soliloquize as his glorious falsetto rings out bringing the chorus to a close, “now you think you’re tryna help/but you can’t save me from myself”. Ensuing, on the free-jazz-leaning “LA Lisa”, SiR and rap collective Zero Fatigue’s Smino team up to paint an unconventional vignette of ‘hood love’, wherein the woman is predominantly the antagonist, drawing the men closer to “street life, loud parties, and street fights”.
Throughout the record, within his songwriting, SiR endearingly showcases and incorporates a plethora of diverse perspectives on love. On the gorgeous “New Sky” SiR and Khadja Bonet muse about taking a break from a relationship that’s not working to “deal with the pain”. Furthermore, on “That’s Why I Love You”, songstress Sabrina Claudio lends her affecting falsetto’s to a mellotron and funky bass as the duo sing back and forth about the joys of pursuing a no-strings-attached relationships, taking turns to croon “I never wondered what this could be/ I just f*ck you and leave” . Then, on the bluesy “Wires In The Way” a break-up happens, resulting in SiR becoming the most vulnerable he’s been so far across the record, as he highlights the bitter-sweet emotions inherent of losing out on the girl of your dreams. Other sonic highlights include the weed-induced “Lucy’s Love” featuring Lil’ Wayne, and “Mood” featuring TDE’s newest signing Zacari – who provides a catchy pop-leaning chorus centered around “getting into your bag”.
However, the most gorgeous and seamless of all the star-studded features on the record comes from the legend herself Jill Scott on “Still Blue”. It’s a track that moves to detail the feeling of complacency we sometimes feel in an otherwise perfect relationship; in that, it sonically captures emotions inherent of falling in and out of love. After SiR beautifully introduces the track, on the second verse Scott’s iconic voice glides with conviction across the spacey, yet soulful arrangement comprised of a walking drumline and synthesized mellotrons bolstered by twinkling improvised piano accents.
Ultimately, the record ends in “L.A.”, and although Inglewood SiR hasn’t traveled too far from home on this record, he’s taken us on a journey throughout the confines of his mind, as he chases the feeling of summer and compares it with the feeling of home. On the uplifting and experimental culminating track, SiR wraps all his experiences in a neat bow encompassing two movements, as he amalgamates syncopated R&B with the characteristic free-jazz-inspired sound he’s so brilliantly captured across the sonic highlights of the record, as he incants repeatedly “take me back to L.A.” As the record ends, our airplane pilot re-emerges – still preparing us for de-boarding, yet this time his presence serves as the meticulous closing sentiment to the trip that is “Chasing Summer”. Overarchingly, this record cannot be categorically described as a conceptual album, that being said, it doesn’t claim to be in its musicality – it’s more so a collection of alternative R&B tracks that move to awaken its listeners inner wanderlust, transporting them to a place where it’s perpetually warm and inviting, where you can feel carefree all the time and simply let all your troubles fade into the distance.