Jessica Mauboy is entering a whole new era of her career. Her fourth studio album ‘Hilda’ hears her reacquainting herself with her RNB roots and resurfacing herself as a storyteller. Opening up about her family, relationships and struggle with love, this is the most personal we have heard Mauboy.
Sonically it feels like the mature sister to her debut album ‘Been Waiting’ with it’s heavy RNB-pop focus and disco injected sensibility. However there’s a lot of maturity and growth that has occurred and has seen her evolve into the artist she is now. And it’s simple breathtaking.
Opening with the dark and honest ‘Blessing’, she implements a cinematic touch that feels mysteriously bold. She reflects on a relationship where she wasn’t feeling valued and takes a moment to remind them that she is always worthy of feeling loved and special. And it sets a very confident undertone for the rest of the record as she takes control of her narrative.
The soulful lead single ‘Sunday’ is full of fire while the instant grat track ‘Jealous’ is hands down one of the best tracks she’s ever released. The seductively charged anthem is bold and infectiously catchy and tells her man exactly what she’s about to do. With the crooning RNB vibe of the first verse setting the mood, the chorus brings in a whole different vibe with a reggae influenced beat and hip moving element. Channeling the likes of Kehlani and Ashanti, she gets sexy and real with listeners.
Continuing with that throwback sound ‘Get Back Up’ is a soulful track that is all about picking herself back up when she gets knocked down. And while it is a really strong track, the chord progression is the exact same as her previous hit ‘Fallin’ and it’s hard to not associate the two.
Something this album hears Mauboy focusing on is the musical story of how she wants to represent the music. And a few of these songs hears her stripping the production back and beginning the track on a acoustic guitar which is something we haven’t heard her do before. ‘Never Ever’ is a ‘Havana’ inspired moment which will have you feeling a little saucy, but it’s the guitar led ‘Tough Love’ which stands out as one of the albums strongest moments. Admitting that love isn’t always easy, this romantic, raw and honest track is one that will have you really captivated. “Love wasn’t meant to be easy, and that’s why we stay”.
Building onto her dance-pop experimentation of her third studio album ‘Beautiful’, she polishes out that radio ready sound with the euphoric ‘Come Runnin’, the disco anthem ‘Better’, the reggae infused ‘Selfish’ and the nostalgic album closer ‘Wish You Well’. And she even gives you a little Chainsmokers and Zedd inspired moment on the all-out EDM ‘Who We’re Meant To Be’.
Stripping it back to just a piano, the mammoth hit single ‘Little Things’ and the family themed ‘Just Like You’ hears her giving you a full serving of VOCALS. And damn, the girl can SING. There are a lot of anthem inspired moments in this collection and ‘Butterfly’ is a soulful piano ballad about persistence that grows with thumping drums and gospel harmonies that lift the production to a new realm. “Butterfly’s gonna keep on flying, through the night, and the wind and rain. You and I gotta keep on trying anyway”.
And that’s a big takeaway from this record. She’s not only a talented singer but she’s also a talented songwriter and storyteller and on ‘Hilda’ she dives deep into her artistry and opens a piece of her heart to her listeners. And what she’s created is her boldest and strongest record yet.
Must Listens: ‘Jealous’, ‘Tough Love’, ‘Butterfly’, ‘Better’
Purchase a SIGNED copy of ‘Hilda’ from Sanity HERE; https://www.sanity.com.au/products/2428098/Hilda-SIGNED-COPY–BONUS-POP-SOCKET