Album Review

Mahalia - IRL

Striking a perfect balance between familiarity and unpredictability, it’s a delight.

Mahalia - IRL

“They say it takes 10 years to make a girl get bigger / Then another 10 to secure your position,” opens Mahalia on ‘IRL’, the title track of the Leicestershire singer-songwriter’s second full-length. She’s singing here about her own journey, following with the tale of her mother driving her around as a child to chase her dream, but with renowned DJ Trevor Nelson claiming earlier this year that R&B is the hardest of sells to the UK market, perhaps there’s a little more behind her words. It might be hard to imagine in this current climate, genre leader SZA having played two sold-out nights at the O2 Arena mere days ago, but for Mahalia’s MOBO Award wins, BRIT and GRAMMY nods alongside peer recognition from Adele, Little Simz, Burna Boy and more, 2019 debut ‘Love and Compromise’ only scraped the Top 30. But with its nods equally to a Y2K sound - the immediate chorus of ‘Terms & Conditions’, the closing synths of ‘Goodbyes’ in particular - and more up to date textures, ‘IRL’ has more chance than most at breaking the apparent curse.Mahalia has also collated here a cast of collaborators ready to back her mission up. In front of the mic, they include Kojey Radical, noughties icon JoJo, and Stormzy, whose pared-back singing on ‘November’ creates a gorgeously tender moment, weaving around in contrast with Mahalia’s own voice; behind it, Raye (‘Terms & Conditions’) and MNEK (‘Cheat’) are on writing duty. Striking a perfect balance between familiarity and unpredictability, immediate choruses coexisting with a relaxed, breezy sound, ‘IRL’ is a delight.

Tags: Mahalia, Reviews, Album Reviews

Latest Reviews

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

June 2024

With Glass Animals, Los Campesinos!, Alfie Templeman, Lava La Rue and many more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY