Originally published July 23, 2023
Angelina Jordan finally dropped her EP at the midnight of July 20 EDT without any fanfare or fireworks, but sometimes silence can be deafening. “Old Enough” is Angelina’s rite-of-passage album, formally announcing her arrival to the music industry. And what an entry she makes with this phenomenal collection of music gems!
Deep foray into R&B and Soul
With “Love Don’t Let me Go” released two months ago as a precursor, the album represents Angelina’s deepest foray into the territory of R&B and Soul. It is superbly crafted and flawlessly produced, with brilliant instrumentation. Those veteran angels who were surprised by her stylized vocal performances in “Love Don’t Let me Go” are in for a jaw-dropping experience.
The five new songs feature Angelina’s supremely-susceptible-to-heartbreak voice that’s sultry, bluesy and gritty, with slides, growls and melismatic runs that elicit the memories of Aretha Franklin, Etta James and James Brown.
Baring her soul covered in scars
Except for a handful of occasions, Angelina has been well-known to express her emotions with masterful restraint. In this album however, she goes all out and holds nothing back, baring her soul covered in scars.
Her voice is soaked in bitter anguish, and sounds raw, vulnerable and tormented, as if she has been through hell and back.
“All My Fault” is particularly heartrending – I’ve listened to it a dozen times and it brought me to tears every single time. One can only hope that her emotions don’t actually come from her personal experiences, which would be too traumatic for a 17-year-old girl.
Amy can only wish to sing like Angelina
It is almost impossible not to notice the artistic affinity with Amy Winehouse in this album. I would argue that the similarity is rather superficial. Angelina may have subconsciously channeled a lot of Amy in her performances, but she sounds distinctively herself.
In other words, Amy can only wish to sing like Angelina, because there are so many things Angelina does that are beyond Amy’s vocal capability, not to mention her singularly beautiful tonality.
What most distinguishes the two artists is the delivery. At the peak of her craft, Amy still sounds aloof and distant, struggling to connect with her audience. She has to rely on her bad-girl attitude to draw the crowd.
Angelina is an irresistible force of nature when it comes to emotional impact. Her delivery is always hard-hitting and soul-stirring, sweeping away her audience like a tidal wave.
Angelina claiming the genre of “retro pop”
The shift toward R&B and Soul may have been orchestrated by the label, because very few female artists sing like that nowadays. It is a golden opportunity for Angelina to claim the genre of “retro pop” and sculpt it in her own image.
My only gripe is that the album is a bit too intense. After listening to it for a few times, I can’t help but feel emotionally exhausted. Perhaps it was so intended, as James Brown famously said that his goal was “to give people more than what they came for – make them tired, because that’s what they came for.”
Angelina the Superstar has finally arrived, the only question remains: is the world ready to embrace her?