Every so often, an artist comes along that makes us truly feel their music. India Shawn is one such artist. The singer-songwriter has been grinding for over a decade, and her talent and tenacity has been recognized and rewarded. After making her major label debut on Epic Records last November with the EP BEFORE WE GO, she builds on that project with her official debut album BEFORE WE GO (DEEPER).
India intended this album to be an extension of her previous work. All songs from BEFORE WE GO can be found on BEFORE WE GO (DEEPER), as well as seven new tracks that Shawn and executive producer D’Mile expertly weave in.
The first voice you hear on the album actually isn’t India Shawn’s. The project kicks off with “INTRO,” a spoken word introduction by Kaye Fox. The tranquil piece sets the tone by encouraging us to get to know and love ourselves over an acoustic guitar. Fox’s words to live by segue smoothly into the first single “CALI LOVE.”
Our leading lady expresses her discontent with trying to find her leading man in Los Angeles. She likens it to, “Searching for water where it never rains,” a slick reference to Tony! Toni! Toné!‘s “It Never Rains (In Southern California).” We experience a plot twist on the album version as India gets fellow multitalented singer-songwriter Ambré to join her with the addition of a third verse that continues the looking for love narrative.
Matters of the heart continue to be at play on the subsequent tracks, the singles “DON’T PLAY WITH MY HEART” and “TOO SWEET.” In the former, India lets a potential boo know that unless he is coming correct, he should keep it moving. On the latter, she teams with one of her favorite groups, alternative rock band Unlimited Mortal Orchestra, as she flips the script on a smooth operator. No doubt that turnabout is fair play.
“WHEN I CALL” is the first previously unreleased track on the album, and it fits in like a missing puzzle piece. Shawn sweetly sings of the exhilirating feelings of a new love interest whom she can’t wait to communicate with. The track has a throwback soul vibe with a steady drum cadence and stacked background harmonies that sound like they’re coming from a girl group.
India Shawn continues to play it cool – or try to, at least – on “NOT TOO DEEP,” but she may be “too far gone,” which she admits. The slow-burning groove featuring a few bars from 6LACK flawlessly flows into her most recent single, the sensual number “EXCHANGE.” She turns her sexy all the way up on this song, and the album version is more than a minute longer, extending the enjoyment with an ethereal string outro.
On “SUPERFINE,” India reclaims her time and her feelings from a lover who has proven himself unworthy of either. Though things started off good, she asserts that she sees the writing on the wall and knows it’s time to bounce. The string outro on this track serves as a satisfying denouement to the song and relationship.
Stagnant relationships continue to rule on the next two new songs, as India finds herself both “CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE” and on the “SAME FLOOR.” With these tracks she faces the reality that a situation isn’t moving in the right direction and she needs to move on, which is precisely what she does next. Shawn bounces back after a failed relationship on “MOVIN’ ON,” with a lyrical assist from Anderson .Paak.
After picking up the pace, she slows it down again on the gorgeous ballad “TO CHANGE MY MIND.” She craves intimacy and makes a compelling case to the one she wants to share herself with. This track previously ended the EP, but on the album is leads into the final two songs, which depart from the album’s relationship-centric content.
We all need spiritual guidance at times, and India is no different. In “PATIENCE” she petitions God to guide her and extend her the patience until the master plan for her is revealed. The talented Cory Henry finishes the song with a calming organ solo.
Closing out BEFORE WE GO (DEEPER) is the smooth midtempo “JUST YOU.” India sings about self-love on this song and makes it clear that before you can love someone else, you must love and know yourself. It features another spoken passage from Kaye Fox, as she expands on what she started to communicate on “INTRO” and brings the album’s message about love full circle.
India Shawn’s BEFORE WE GO (DEEPER) is a stunning album that showcases her vocal versatility and songwriting skills with superb production from D’Mile. It is obvious that they have great chemistry, which makes for great music and this album has that in abundance.