Album Review: Pheeyownah – SILVER

Swedish and Ugandan singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and dancer Pheeyownah‘s debut album, SILVER, was released on Friday, May 3 and marked a strong start to the musician’s discography. Packed full of R&B instrumentals and driving percussion, SILVER is nothing short of mesmerizing.

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The influence of Pheeyownah’s history as a dancer is clear on nearly every track. Her music is layered, and her warping, atmospheric R&B instrumentals are topped only by the sharp edges of the percussion on the record. It’s easy to imagine a dancer, clad in metallics and dark colors, twisting and moving to these songs on an empty stage.

That is to say that Pheeyownah’s music is theatrical. It is cinematic and vivid, with rushing waves of synth and poetic lyrics. “Forget,” for example, is only 29 seconds but contains beautiful lyrics (“Wishfully thinking suns will set/But above the surface/I’m the proof/I’ll never forget”), and “Noon2Nine” is another short, sparse interlude that features little other than Pheeyownah’s haunting vocals. Earlier, “Vulnerable” uses word-painting techniques when pulsing waves of synthesizer – reminiscent of a sea – back up Pheeyownah as she sings, “I could cry an ocean or two.”

Most of the music on SILVER deals in synthesizer and percussion. At times, tracks are glimmering and fluid, with little beat, like “StayGood,” but those are few and far between. Instead, Pheeyownah primarily writes driving, punching tracks – the title track, which comes after a short introduction, uses percussion that sounds like breaking rocks on pavement: sharp, heavy and gravelly. It’s a stark contrast to the smooth R&B instrumentals, but that dichotomy creates an intensity that carries throughout the record.

Other tracks are more intense and sultry, like “Scent/Sweat,” where constant, driving percussion fuels Pheeyownah as she sings about needing to “sweat you out my system.” The final song, “Gold,” is a deep and resonant ode to a significant other as Pheeyownah sings sweet affections (“I love you, my love”).

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Photo courtesy of Samuel Thylander.

If the idea of 12 tracks is intimidating, fear not, for not only does Pheeyownah intersperse 30-second interludes among her longer works, but each song is hypnotizing in its own way. It is all very seductive and intriguing, and the debut record marks Pheeyownah as one to watch. Check out SILVER below.


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