Gold Mind’s newest excavation, Tweet, gives us a taste of honey-drenched soul on her debut album Southern Hummingbird. Helmed by the lead single “Oops (Oh My),” a late-night R&B heater about the joys of “self-love,” one might figure the rest of her album is full of jerky, overproduced Missy Elliott numbers.

Paul Wong
Rating: three stars.

This is not the case.

The album takes its cue more from the classic soul of the ’70s and ’80s than modern R&B with surprising results. The album lovingly grooves along with rich vocals, soulful ballads and acoustic underpinnings.

Instrumentation and musicianship take a refreshing front seat over heavily produced, trendy R&B. Filled with impressive gems and intoxicating rhythms, there’s a song for almost every melodic mood. “Best Friend” is a reclined slow jam that pares up the laid-back, no fuss stylings of Tweet to the warmth of neo-soulite Bilal.

The range of Southern Hummingbird is remarkably multifaceted; from the stripped-down microphone & guitar vibe of “Motel” to the heartbreaking dark of “Drunk” which howls with carousing abandon (“I’d rather be drunk on a cloud far away from here than sober”) and inebriating to-and-fro melody. There’s a foray into early ’80s synth-soul with the old school-esque jam “Make Ur Move,” a throwback to the roller discos and poplockers of the era of excess and even tiptoes into honky-tonk country (“Complain”).

Largely the artist herself culls most of the album’s more potent material. Her more than 10 years toiling as an aspiring solo artist have paid off: Her skills as a songwriter, drummer and acoustic guitarist are impressively detailed here.

More complex than anything that can currently be offered up by a trio of “bootylicious” singers or a girl that’s not yet a woman, Tweet’s voice exhibits a unique redolence similar to the soul sirens of the seventies – Minnie Riperton, Evelyn Champagne King and Angela Bofill – rather than keeping up with the interchangeable chicks featured on the hook of a rap track.

She is distinctive amongst the crowded school of R&B fish. Her album is one that opts to lead by being lyrically open and musically adventurous. An old school-inspired record brimming with new school promise, Southern Hummingbird is the diary of an emerging musical talent on the rise.

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