With the rapid growth of streaming over the years, many have fallen into the habit of what I like to call microwave consumption – a mad dash to be the first to listen to a new song and forgetting about it moments later. It’s difficult to find a body of work that makes you pause to really appreciate it. However, “She Knows” the latest project offering from British R&B artist Kaleem Taylor diverges from that trend.
Appreciating the carefully crafted minimalist production that has become a signature element of Taylor’s sound over the years, showcased again on this project, it’s almost hard to believe that the single that kickstarted his career back in 2013 was a club hit.
Equally, the transition between the “Surface” and this new project has been seamless. While the type of beat selection remains consistent both in quality and overall sound the development of the singer’s penmanship is the real indicator of growth.
Tied together beautifully by Taylor’s perfervid vocal delivery, his lyricism takes centre stage as the crown jewel of this expressive masterpiece, which does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the UK R&B sound.
The singer sits much more comfortably in his falsetto this time around and whilst previous tracks like “Too Much” had already highlighted the singer’s vocal range, seeing him lean into this a little more on “She Knows” was a welcomed evolution.
Tapping into those vulnerable pockets when he explores the more delicate aspects of his voice is where the real emotional connection on this project was birthed.
Speaking on the project Kaleem said:
“Whether the experience you’ve had with someone is good, bad or complicated, you always take something from it. Sometimes good things don’t last, sometimes love isn’t enough, sometimes you’re the reason why it didn’t work and with this project I just wanted to speak about some of these experiences I had. I wanted to touch on the impact these people had on me and how I impacted them too”.
The end product? A beautifully relatable selection of songs that add some much-needed elements of the male perspective to the conversation of love and heartbreak.
Many times when something ends it can almost feel like a death and to me, the project feels like a snapshot into the singer’s reconciliation which each stage of grief, finally arriving at acceptance with “Until”.
The Standout Tracks
The EP’s opener “Distant Lover”, what I presume to be a subtle nod to Marvin Gaye, prefaced the project perfectly; tackling the age-old tale of it’s not you it’s me. While Taylor switches joyful summers for rainy ones it becomes clear that he is wearing his heart on his sleeve, aided by his signature ad-libs and well-written pre-chorus’. This was followed by a flawless transition into “Everyday”, which stood out for the intentionality of its instrumentation choice, showcased by the enchanting electric guitar ostinato.
If the project is indeed traversing through the 7 stages of grief “I Understand” is most definitely anger. It’s noticeably darker than the other tracks and sees Taylor briefly dip back into his Neo-soul bag with a range of funk-infused melodies and use of his lower register for a more well-rounded sound.
Lyrically the battle for the best track is a close call between “Questions” and “She Knew”.
Channelling Tina Turner on “Questions”, Taylor asks what love has to do with it, sharing a series of thoughts many people have upon realising that the end is nigh, in a manner that is undeniably relatable yet beautifully poetic. Far less flowery but equally as expressive, “She Knew” effectively communicates the singer’s feelings of loss and brokenness opting for a more direct reminder that men indeed have feelings too.
“She Knows” was an impressive project offering from Kaleem Taylor which, despite being texturally sparse in terms of production, remains musically rich allowing his vocals to be the key emotional driver.