joy postell goes ‘back and forth’ with love on new ep

August 21, 2019
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In late 2018, Baltimore singer-songwriter (and sometimes rapper) Joy Postell released her potent (but slept-on) album, Diaspora. It was a meditation on Blackness and her connection to her African roots, one that made sense coming from a woman who responded to the Baltimore uprising that took place in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody by dropping the unmistakable “Hands Up Don’t Shoot.” Now, as summer 2019 comes to a close, Postell has returned with Back and Forth, an EP that’s more personal than political; less about socially-constructed identity and more about relationships. While her last project had its jazz inflections, this one is straight-forward, high-caliber R&B. Her melodies are effortless and there is palatable emotion in her voice, as she questions a potential love interest on the two-part “Possibilities” or sings about the troubles she’s seen in her young life on “Rain Down.”

On the EP’s title cut, she ponders connection and disconnection with lovers and friends; choosing wisdom over self-pity or regret: “No, I don’t take no losses/ only lessons learned/ and throughout the years I’ve seen some bridges burn/ I pray they light the way/ for all the twists and turns.” The real talk continues on “Make Believe” where she leaves a disappointing lover as an act of self-preservation: “You’re dimming my light, I’m not foolish/ and that’s exactly why I had to do this/ CC to Cupid.” The last song on the six-track EP, “Say My Name,” is perhaps the sweetest a goodbye can be; Postell sangs over a somber organ, finger snaps and an 808 bass kick, exhorting her lover to say her name even though their union has run its course. With Back and Forth, Postell has shown that the range of topics she addresses can be as broad as her vocal range, an artist who is not to be boxed in.