Ari Lennox is pressure. She’s gone beyond singing about it and applying it to embodying it. The DMV native is getting ready to debut her highly-anticipated sophomore album age/sex/location almost a year to the day since dropping her hit single “Pressure,” and she hasn’t taken her foot off of the gas or our necks yet. Even with age/sex/location‘s release imminent, the darling of Dreamville decided to bless her adoring public with a surprise project, the EP Away Message.
Lennox made the announcement on social media about Away Message‘s arrival. Her unsuspecting fanbase barely had time to catch their breath after the release of “Queen Space,” her second duet with Summer Walker, earlier in the day, but Ari said to hell with convention.
“Off the internet until September 9 so here’s my away message to you all. New EP to hold you over until the album, love ya,” Ari shared with kissy face and heart emojis and a link to streaming services where everyone could find the five-song collection.
Away Message opens with “Queen Space,” which sets the bar high for the rest of the EP. Ari and Summer have already shown their chemistry on “Unloyal,” and they continue to make magic here as they demand that their partners stop playing with them. While Ari rides the beat, Summer floats above it.
The next two tracks – “Tatted” and “Gummy” – sound straight outta the ’90s R&B archives yet fresh and new. Co-written and co-produced by Dallas Austin, “Tatted” feels like a mashup of SWV, Brandy and Erykah Badu (had Badu sung R&B in the ’90s and not become neo-soul royalty). Ari makes the clever lyrics about sex sound as innocent as can be over breezy instrumentation.
Innocence is out of the window on “Gummy,” where Ari gets a bit more explicit about her wants and desires. She channels her inner Missy Elliott at the song’s onset while producer Deputy keeps the throwback sound bumping with a head-nodding, body-moving groove that includes a sample of Keni Burke‘s often-sampled classic “Risin’ To The Top.”
After getting broken off, reality sets in for Ari on “No Settling” as she realizes that she needs more than she’s being offered. She even goes so far to spell it out to anyone who doesn’t understand her plight. That discontent carries over into “Bitter.” Over a Motown-era instrumental, Lennox laments a lover who’s happily moved on and left her behind in shambles.
Ari Lennox’s Away Message takes listeners on a rollercoaster ride of feelings and emotions from a real, honest place. She hasn’t indicated if these five songs will join “Pressure” and “Hoodie” on age/sex/location or if Away Message is a standalone project of extras that didn’t make the album’s 12-song tracklist. Whatever the case may be, we are enjoying this bounty from Ari Lennox. If these incredible tracks just so happen to be the songs that didn’t make the cut, then we can’t wait to hear what does.