Reason, the sophomore release by Belgium’s Selah Sue, is laden with one heavy hitting song after another: “Alone,” “Gotta Make it Last,” “I Won’t Go for More,” “Light” and “Right Where I Want You” are just a few highlights. Beneath Reason‘s opulent sound, is emotive depth; Sue reflects on romantic loss and emotional turmoil without restraint, taking listeners straight into the singer-songwriter’s heart, and holding you there.
Selah’s multi-faceted voice generally lives in two vocal realms: when restrained — on tracks like “Direction” and “Stand Back” — it’s incredibly sultry (Joss Stone and Róisín Murphy come to mind); when it hits her upper register, as on “Reason,” her raw vocal tone evokes Duffy. But always, her songs exude electricity, even on the more melancholy tunes. She also has a dynamic, adept way of wearing her influences on her sleeve, enveloping them into her pop/alt-soul sound.
In rare instances, those influences land a little too on the nose: the production on “Sadness” veers excessively close to Amy Winehouse, and also sees her playing both Lauryn Hill and Rihanna, vocally. Then there’s “Together,” a surprisingly generic pop track made worse by Childish Gambino’s uninspired verse.
Still, those aside, Reason remains a sizzling album, made unforgettable by her vocal prowess and passion. (Because)