ALBUM REVIEW: KAMAL. [@Kamalnw] – ‘SO HERE YOU ARE, DROWNING’
Singer songwriter Kamal. who hails from Harsleden has dropped his latest mixtape ‘so here you are, drowning’ today. It’s a bedroom pop/R&B album that explores love and how it can sometimes be unrequited, with emphasis on vulnerability. The production is fairly simple which allows a spotlight to shine on his exquisite songwriting. The title draws inspiration from a quote from the novel ‘Open Water’ by Caleb Azumah Nelson which also uses water as a concept metaphorically in the story.
His vocals are soft and gentle, with the warmth of a hug from a loved one. The production feels like something you’d listen to in your room, on your own on a rainy day. The acoustic guitar gives it a cosy vibe and the drums on the project give it a steady tempo. The majority of the project follows this formula, providing slightly different yet still cohesive tracks. This makes for the highlights in production being when the soundscape is switched up. During ‘free flow’, there’s a beat switch with a PinkPantheress-esque drum loop, taking it from a slow acoustic jam to more of an upbeat pop speed. The production on ‘sex on you’ has these jittering synths that feel like floating through space, mimicking a euphoria encouraged by the endorphins released during sex.
His songwriting is intelligent with lines like, ‘These days, she stays on the camera like Ciesay’ referencing Ciesay of Places + Faces, who is a well known photographer that takes portraits of artists. The song ‘essential’ is incredibly well-crafted, ‘Funny how I thought you were essential’, he reflects on how you can think you need someone. Then he ends the song with ‘I don’t need you anyway’, in acapella for more impact. Some of his lyrics are quite picturesque, cherry-picking details like “Used to be the cashmere sheets with the blinds down” on ‘free flow’ and “You reach your head out the Benz” on ‘better’. They feel like fragments of his memory from the situations the songs are about.
It’s also clear that the sensations and feelings of the songs are conveyed in both the production and vocals. The riff on ‘falling’ embodies descending when you fall, as does the strum of the guitar and the drifting synthesisers. The melody on ‘drown’ feels like slow dancing with your crush for the first time, and the vocal stacks during the chorus as he sings the title of the song are gorgeous. This is the final song and a monologue from ‘Open Water’ underneath spiralling piano beautifully concludes the album.
The softness of Kamal.’s second mixtape is comforting. The minimal production allows for a peaceful listening experience, allowing anyone who hears it to reflect and resonate with feelings I’m sure most of us know all too well.
listen to the full project below: