Album Review: Dawn Richard & Spencer Zahn – Pigments – mxdwn.com

January 15th, 2023 – 9:00 AM
An electronic soundbath

Dawn Richard, an RnB singer, has teamed up with neoclassical composer Spencer Zahn to create the kaleidoscopic and otherworldly album Pigments. Instead of opting for basic shades, each track title is as vibrant as the music contained within it. There is no red or blue, instead there is crimson and cobalt. The album combines the fantastic electronic sound from Zahn with the intimate, pathos-driven vocals from Richard. The result is a stunning project that allows both artists to shine through and create something beautiful.
“Coral” starts the album with gentle woodwind harmonies, so soft you can hear the player inhaling before the note. The way the instrumentation moves throughout the track feels like a smooth sway, or a vast inhale/exhale of sound. The song acts like an overture to the tracklist and sets up some melodic themes that will be playing throughout the record.
It seamlessly blends into the next track, “Sandstone,” which features Richard’s vocals for the first time. Her voice is ethereal, it soars as she sings “If I could be more / More through you / I wanna be more through you.” This sort of longing is common in a lot of music, but it seems like Richard is not longing for something common or even something capable of obtaining. The thing she longs for is as unearthly as her voice and the music that surrounds it.
This idea is furthered in the beautiful track “Vantablack,” where she sings, “Can I drink you in? / Lost in your skin / You’re my religion.” She wants to “fall in” and “lose (herself)” in the figure she sings about. The instrumental track that follows, “Sienna,” is so smooth and encapsulating that it is hard to notice that it is even a different song.
The album reaches its zenith halfway through, in the track “Cerulean.” The song begins with a lush soundscape that feels like it is swaying around the listener. The production is thick and there are beautiful sounds and motifs embedded in the ambiance. Richard sings, “I can’t get past all the rules / All I see is cerulean blue / I’m still mad at you.” The longing in her voice seamlessly blends with the sound. She begs for an answer to her question, “Are you hurting like you’re hurting me?”
By the song “Crimson,” Richard has seemed to have made a revelation. Her love was misplaced. She sings, “Can you wait for me? / I’m not where I need to be.” She recognizes her love and longing was unhealthy and she realizes that she needs more time.
Pigments is a gem of a record. Not very often do collaborations of this caliber happen between artists of completely different genres. Both of the artists bring a lot to the table and the result is spectacular.

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