Snoh Aalegra: Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies review – inventive R&B with retro charm

ion a fractured, social media-fuelled music landscape, few things are more valuable to an emerging artist than a co-sign from a superstar. That bodes well for Snoh Aalegra, a Swedish-born, LA-based singer with collaborations and endorsements coming out of her ears. In the two years before his death, she was mentored by Prince; nel 2017, Drake sampled one of her songs for his mixtape More Life. She has worked with Vince Staples e Common e, on this record, Tyler, il creatore e il Neptunes. Underpinning these impeccable connections is her longstanding association with the producer No ID, the man who mentored Kanye and is now married to Aalegra’s cousin.

Infatti, the opening tracks of the 33-year-old’s third album recall the sound that made West famous: Indecisive has a “chipmunk soul” intro, while the brilliantly bouncy In Your Eyes (produced by the Neptunes and, in a just world, a future smash) uses tiny snippets of distorted vocal samples as percussion. But that’s not where the record stays: instead, it snakes back through the decades, to Whitney Houston’s glinting ballads and Sade’s restrained soul, and back again to today’s trap-inflected R&B.

What makes this more than merely a trip down memory lane is the always-inventive production and Aalegra’s elegant, preternaturally smooth voice, which she uses to chronicle the neglected fringes of minor romantic disappointment. Although catchy choruses haven’t historically been a prerequisite of her chosen style, the widespread absence of memorable melodic hooks does feel notable. As the title suggests, love in Aalegra’s world is beautiful, beguiling and quick to fade into the ether – much like her music’s classy, retro charm.

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