I Belong to You
Reviewed by Kahron Spearman, Fri., Feb. 10, 2017
Less than six years removed from national exposure on The Voice, NBC's American rendering of the popular Dutch singing competition, Tje Austin (pronounced Tye) presents I Belong to You, a refined affair trapped in oscillation and illuminating the singer's immense talent through an awkward recalibration of sound. The bluesy "Whiskey" as well as the stripped-down "I Belong to You" platforms Austin at his best, making use of his tender, naturally smoky timbre. That wail projects the album's most somber moment, "Everyone Goes Away," which grieves over the death of a loved one as a physical wound: "Sometimes, I feel like dying; my body, it hurts like hell." Austin also hits the mark on "Higher," nostalgic funk-pop about a bard dirty-macking his way out of the friend zone. For the high potential areas, there are equal measures of softness ("So Good"), sometimes leaning into cheese ("Next Time"). While effective overall, if only by grace of Austin's voice, I Belong to You leaves you asking for specificity that's more demonstrative. It lives in emotional almosts, Austin not always allowing himself to indulge white-hot anger, brimming elation, or the numerous confusions in between.