If you don’t know about AMYRA then get familiar, forreal. The Brooklyn-based musician, poet, educator and activist is literally one of the most talented creatives on this planet. I saw her perform live in London back in August last year at one of Touching Bass’ usually incredible events. Her vocal performance was unlike anything I had heard at the time, a uniquely powerful yet soft and utterly soulful voice that was genuinely goosebump-inducing. It’s not only her voice but her incredible spoken pieces that are so brutally honest and so incredibly poetic. She embodies black joy, black expression, black pain and black love so effortlessly throughout her music. Her debut album WITNESS is an incredible amalgamation of everything I just mentioned. A stunning, poetic and mesmeric project that, to me, establishes her as one of the most forward-thinking musicians of this year.
The 15-track album kicks off with the melodic, acoustic and electronic tonalities of “On The Run”, an incredibly soulful track that sees AMYRA speak on dream-states and being on the run from the social issues and the shackles that still trap her as a Black Woman in the US. The emotional potency of her voice on this track and throughout the entire album is just sublime, as I genuinely feel the pain and raw emotion of her voice. The instrumentally rich and soulful “75¢” is another great moment on the album, with gorgeous synths and piano keys that just sound incredible, and a groovy bassline and beat that drives the rhythm of the track forward. “Glow” is a trap-influenced track, with infectious rhythms and a choppy vocal delivery that is truly something special. The emotive piano-led piece of “You Are The One” is exquisite, as her vocal performance is utterly mesmeric throughout. “Who Am I” and “Let Me Be” are fantastic tracks. The former features a guest verse from an uncredited rapper, talking about the beauty of his own skin, embodying black love and liberation. The huskiness in AMYRA’s voice on this track is incredible, I’m such a fan of how she changes the tone of her voice to match the sonic landscape of a particular track. “Let Me Be” is a playful and catchy r&b track that talks about being comfortable in your own body and skin. The minimal yet angelic tone of “Witness Eve Ensler” is another great moment, with a beautiful spoken word poem read at the end, just go listen to it, it’s sublime. The 6-minute stunner “Toxic June” is an incredible track, with stunning guitar leads, synths and piano melodies that are so emotive and angelic. Sounds like heaven finally opening up, and AMYRA’s voice is stunning as well. The electronic “Down The Middle” is another energetic moment on the album, while “Soledad” is a sombre, emotive and heartfelt piece sung in Spanish. “All I Know” is another stunning track, with a dynamic, synth-led instrumental and commentary on self love and identity, knowing who you are and embracing that fact fully. “The Sound Of Drowning” is thrilling and chilling. Over an atmospheric production, AMYRA’s spoken word piece details the way every aspect of her being is considered bad, grotesque, not enough by society around her, and ending it on re-emphasizing the important of self-worth, self-love and Black liberation. It’s a truly incredible and powerful piece of work. But nothing is more powerful than that closer. Honest goosebumps on “On The Run – Ivory Session”. The subtle piano piece is led by AMRA’s staggeringly good voice. The raw power and emotion in it is just so incredible, and when she hits the highest of high notes, my jaw just dropped. It was like that for the most part throughout, but some of the vocal moments are seriously ridiculous.
AMYRA’s message, voice, poetic lyricism and utter dedication to the values of self-worth, self-love and Black liberation & freedom is what makes WITNESS a masterpiece. That’s all really, just listen, observe and be amazed. Her poetry is sublime, her aura as well. Go support!