Frisco-raised alt-R&B vocalist/producer (and UT student) Jessica Bathea's latest output as Upper Reality captures a polymath deep in discovery mode. "An exploration into inadequacy," Silver offers courage by aurally illuminating her fears. Topically and tonally similar to like-minded artists Solange, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and SZA, she tackles the existential duality of blackness and womanhood, direct and clear-eyed on "Your Way (Black Woman)," floating a dignified spoken word: "They want us as symbols, but don't want our truth." On "Second Place," Bathea's rich contralto swims in warm, low-lying synths and 808 bass decay. The excellent "Why I Still Make Music" addresses her fears best, as she raps in double time, "I'm in a hurry, to speak my mind, and go home early." The disc's true revelation is Bathea as a producer, respectfully possessing the spirit of her brave, self-facing influences.
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