Note: Sounds of the City highlights the best Houston music not attached to its strong but overdiscussed rap scene.
LOVE DOMINIQUE GETS ‘LOST’
When you see Love Dominique in concert, she’s a mix of business and glam. She lets her hair roll down from the top of her head, raven-colored and alternating between curled and straight designs. She sings with a rasp that you could easily parse down to affectionate and at times pained and hurt. Sometimes it whispers with a come-hither approach, other times it holds firm and rides along guitar beds like a ship through troubled waters.
But as Love Dominique continues to craft music, more of her skin begins to show. The interior that holds up Dominique McKinley comes from living, being in and out of love, and embracing the aspects of power that come with being a woman. She tips that power towards sex appeal and tongue in cheek prowling on Lost In It, the 6-track EP she released on January 7.
Here’s a quick hint: it’s the most comfortable and yet uncomfortable release of Love Dominique’s career so far.
Lost In It offers more curses, more “enjoy the results” sex coos and is about as revealing as a Love Dominique release has ever been. “Rock Steady” makes not only her vocal octaves rise to a twist and wring, but it also flat-out declares what she wants out of a man. She’s already dominated every aspect of her daily life; now she wants her love to, in so many words, lead her. “Spread my ass right there, pull my hair, I know you like it/ Bend me over here, make it rough, I won’t fight it/ Watch me throw it back, so excited… I’m so excited…” she moans and purrs on the chorus, almost wanting and pleading for a switch up in her own monotony. That’s what Lost In It offers, not just for her but lead producer Nate Coop as well — a change of pace.
Ever since she opted to leave writing bubblegum pop records alone, Dominique has taken liberties on every single release, Wicked Heart included, to push further. Lost In It puts a red-light special on every quiet storm thought she’s had in her head. “Bad Guy” has her friends looking at her crazy for falling for someone obviously not good for her. “Hate To Love U” and “Beautiful” swing the pendulum on letting go and conforming when conforming is good for you. Love Dominique decided to get naked mentally for this EP, and it’s her most freeing work so far. That’s not even dealing with her idea of sexuality as a sense of power and control, and a woman having dominion over her own pleasure.
JACK FREEMAN FINDS THE MUNCHIES
Nothing matches more than accentuating Jack Freeman’s music with a particular brand of cognac. It’s smooth, it always seems older than what it is and when it connects, it knocks you back a few steps. As time has progressed, Freeman’s music has tip-toed through different waves of R&B. He worked around some of Chris Rockaway’s more eccentric creations on Spotless Mind. On Dark Liquor, Freeman strapped on his suspenders and sang about a type of heartbreak usually known for Anthony Hamilton. In other words, Jack Freeman is just like Hennessy on a late night when you’re only left with your thoughts to play with. It’s dangerous, honest and, at times, fulfilling when the mood hits.
Before 2015 closed, Freeman dropped Munchies, a three-track EP that saw him cue up plenty of mid-tempo dance-floor grind tracks. The title track packs in ‘90s-like reverb with astral notes and keys from Rockaway and Jett I. Masstyr. and Freeman offering put-ons by comparing his cravings for his woman to food. “Come Back” strums around simple instrumentation from The PRBLM SLVRS, spinning around the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere." “Seasons Change,” with its blustery horns from Jett I. Master, asks the important question of “what’s next” after a brief romance. All of it is standard-issue male R&B that doesn’t ask Freeman to shed too much into his personality (which is vast) or toy with foreign concepts. He merely wants a bit of consistency, not just with the woman he’s involved with for one night but every night.
Munchies is what happens when you split Dave Hollister’s “One Woman Man” into separate arcs, where you want the passion of love and can firmly admit that one woman, that woman, is all you need.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
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SHOW ME HOW
A conversation with Lee-Lonn Walker can go in multiple directions, depending on the moment. Ask him about his life and he’ll tell you he just rededicated himself to the Lord via baptism, and that he’s no longer fearful of recording new music. Those fears he once had are doused with a hint of anger on “WildFire,” his latest cut produced by Chris Rockaway. The slow-building guitar strings conjure memories of Bond film montages and Lee-Lonn obscuring traditional verses for a single sentence and strong delivery. No need to be afraid when you were already different.
THE SUFFERS, “Peanuts”
With their self-titled album almost here, The Suffers released “Peanuts” last week, so I'll keep it simple: It's subtle bass and Kam Franklin making impassioned pleas to her lover to not even dare argue or fight with her because she just wants to relax. It’s sticky-sweet and only Franklin can spread the love with lines line, “When I look into the mirror and try to point out what’s wrong/ That’s when you walk up and say you love me, all along.”