Gaviana takes us back to the 90s with her soulful debut, ‘Vivid Dreams’.
Having gathered traction across streaming services over the past few years, the charismatic A-Train singer hailing from Long Island, New York aims to present herself as the latest phenomenon to reach the pinnacle of the rousing new-wave of R&B. And if this debut album is anything to go by, then it’s only a matter of time until her name is up in lights alongside some of the genre’s very best.
Young in her career and still developing a musical identity, ‘Vivid Dreams’ is admittedly a raw album, leaning heavily on the sensual, richness of the late 90s R&B sound. But given Gaviana’s expansive mezzo-soprano vocals, these comparisons certainly aren’t a bad thing, as her range comfortably spans multiple octaves in ways reminiscent of greats such as Mariah Carey. The opening ‘Let Go’ immediately showcases the Brooklyn singer in her element, with her alluring vocals and commanding presence revealing an artist brimming with confidence. Taking these inspirations into her stride, Gaviana delivers some sensational vocal performances throughout the album, most notably on the biographical ‘Stories Untold’. While comparing her life to “a story with no end”, Gaviana touches on personal topics such as bullying, and self-doubt, throughout which her incredible vocals transcend this track into a deeper, more intimate place.
As to be expected with any R&B release, ‘Vivid Dreams’ is centred on topics of love and romance, grief and heartache – all of which provide the perfect recipe for some well-constructed ballads. ‘Come Closer’ is a perfect example of this, with the moonlit atmosphere and glossy instrumental being greeted with some passionate, heart-driven Alicia Keys style vocals. Although her influences are rather distinct, Gaviana’s radiating charisma spices up the tracklist, as she identifies authentic manners to approach these topics of love. This can be felt on the passionate ‘Free’ – a charming track honouring the traits of self-resilience and inner-strength used to break free from a suffocating relationship. “I’ve just got to be me”, she sings in empowering fashion, discarding every inch of self-doubt, with the triumphant atmosphere complemented by the introduction of a brass instrument. However, the following track, ‘Passerby’ serves as a stark contrast, with nostalgia taking over as Gaviana sings; “I never thought I’d miss you”, on what is an emotional track dominated by the cold, glistening synths.
While heavily inspired by some of the genre’s most well-received bodies of work, the nuances within the instrumentals ensure ‘Vivid Dreams’ has more than enough going for it. A prime example is the sound of ticking of the clock, cleverly intertwined with the percussion on the fittingly titled ‘Counter Clockwise’. In addition to the instrumental syncopations, this track also sees Gaviana experiment with different vocal effects – a decision which pays off, with the subtle use of autotune enriching her tonalities, all while adding an additional element to the track. ‘Lost Gone’ is a further example of this, a ruminating anthem made fascinating due to the quirky instrumentation, of which the yelping synths further contribute to this sense of nostalgia.
‘Birds in the Park’ closes the album in stylish fashion, with the feisty tone a fitting way to close an album dedicated to the nuances of love. Tying the album together in concise fashion, the addictive refrain also ensures the most enthralling hook is saved until the very last track. Both sensual and assertive, Gaviana’s soulful charisma is impossible to ignore, and having released such an accomplished record this early into her musical career, the future is unquestionably promising.
Favourite Tracks: Let Go, Stories Untold, Free