Chloe x Halle are out her grinding and have given us two tracks this week.
While it seems like they are barely getting the press they deserve, the ladies have not been sitting around waiting for someone to swoop in and recognize their greatness. Tonight they made their acting debut on the Black-ish spinoff, Grown-ish, and they have also composed a track for the show that perfectly encapsulates the tone it is going for–trepidation and excitement at getting out on your own and doing your own thing.
Halle has still got those Beyoncé inflections in her singing, but you can tell that she is starting to come into her own vocally and, while it may take a few years, the time is coming where we won’t be able to make those comparisons as easily. Chloe is definately starting to mature in her personal vocal journey and the tone she is coming with has us intrigued. As she gets older and her voice matures, she is going to have unique vocals that is will likely set her apart from many of her contemporaries.
The appeal of this track is that is has a pretty simple production that is made a lot more rich and full thanks to the harmonies and hand claps. There is a lot going on in the track…and yet there isn’t. Instrumentally, we could only detect the bassline, the drums, and what sounds like an organ or piano synthesizer (leaning towards the latter as the duo tends to use one in their performances quite often). While it’s the not the type of track that you would jump into all the time, it’s something that makes you want to hear it again once it’s played. It’s a nice space to occupy and a good direction for signature track of a television show to go.
The second song (and our favorite of the two) had us immediately thinking of The Who and their iconic track from 1966, but the main these songs have in common is that they are generational explainers of carefree self-determinism. You can hear some small similarities in the underlying tone, which may go to show how the original influenced the creation of this, but Chloe x Halle decided to go far more epic with their version and it absolutely works.
The strength for this duo, besides their more than solid songwriting, is their ability to blend their voices. It can take a few listens to realize that there are very few instruments on this track and that the bulk of the sound is coming from different overlays of their harmonies. It makes the song sound very rich and very personal. The lead vocals are starting to make their separation from their mentor as well, as they are taking their cues from her less and finding their own way more. You can still hear the influence she has with them, but it is becoming more of a matter of composition and placement than it is sound.
We do want to take a moment to recognize that their songwriting has improved. While they have never really been hard to decipher with a little brain power, they did have a habit of putting in needless illusions and word replacements to give their songs “deeper” meaning. They seemed to have learned to control that impulse since their debut and have made the effort to put more meaning in the overall content instead of a single line or word within the construct.
I think that we can think of this as the ladies’ signature sound in terms of production. There is a lot shared with their Two Of Us mixtape from 2016; the tribal undertones, the minimalist overall production with the harmonies that serve more as instrumentation than backing vocals. There is nothing like a song that comes across as epic without trying too hard or losing accessibility and these two have now managed to craft a few in that vein. At 17 and 19, that is an amazing skill and one that seems to be honing itself rather quickly.