It's been a long journey for SZA and her debut LP. Despite signing with TDE in 2013 and releasing critically acclaimed EP's from 2011-2014, fans and music lovers alike have been waiting for her full-length debut for some time. Now, the wait is over and the listener finds out rather quickly that CTRL is well worth the wait.
CTRL is a concise, varied debut from the 26-year-old, New Jersey-born crooner. At 14 tracks, there is a little something for everyone to love on this album, yet it all comes together so beautifully that it never feels disjointed or erratic. Songs that have been released previously as singles, "Drew Barrymore" and "Love Galore," feel right at home next to new ventures like "Prom" and "Garden (Say It Like Dat)." This body of songs is a breath of fresh air in an age where many mainstream artists are capitulating to the idea that music is more about towing a line stylistically than about being unique in both style and sound.
The album, a collection of quasi-pop/r&b songs, listens with ease. The production never feels overdone or distracting. It shifts from upbeat pop melodies to downtempo r&b jams with such confidence, it’s hard to believe this is actually a debut. Simply put, this is one of the best debut r&b albums from any artist in recent memory. As many current r&b albums feel similar in influence nowadays, CTRL harkens back to a feeling of freedom. One thing is for sure when CTRL hits you, you realize one thing: SZA is a force to be reckoned with.
Rating: 4 out of 5
All images courtesy of @sza & Instagram