Brooklyn R&B Artist Alex Mali Slides Into The Spotlight With Debut EP
Alex Mali is the new voice of R&B whether you know it or not. The Brooklyn-based artist has all the makings of your new obsession (she’s already ours): a versatile voice, a skill for building intriguing soundscapes, a knack for penning relatable verses — the list goes on. Alex has it all.
A few months ago, Alex Mali dropped her debut EP, Sweet & Sour, a really lush collection of six smooth tracks dipping into her Caribbean background with tropically-tinged elements that give a richness to her R&B signature. Like Alex tells The Music Mermaid, “Life isn't always the best and it isn't always the worst, but it's always beautiful. [This EP] is a representation of that."
Sweet & Sour opens with “No Limits,” a stunning work of sonic art because it seamlessly merges elements you’d never really expect to co-exist. The distant trill of grandiose string and piano tones bloom in the beginning, met by the warble of birds and the fresh feel of dipping beneath a waterfall, before Alex’s flavored voice comes in ready to oscillate between airy falsetto and cool croons — this is an underwater introduction, ripples of stone skips and sparkles of bubbles skimming the surface where the sun hits it. On “Start It Up,” we’ve moved from day to night. Alex delivers a contemporary R&B effort focused on the way she delivers that hook — “Cuz I love too hard and I fall even harder / Trust too much so I push even farther” — with a softness, a vulnerability boosted on a pedestal by the subtle percussive clacks and whispering buzzes of electronica flying through the air. “Crazy Eyes” isn’t exactly aptly named — there’s nothing crazy about the cool bursts of shadowy R&B featured here but what could be crazy is how good Alex’s vocals are. They’re giving their all on so many different levels, moving once again from sheepish to powerful in one fell swoop.
Halfway through Sweet & Sour, Alex joins fellow Brooklyn rapper Thutmose for dreamy, fleeting piece “Faded,” linking both artists’ smooth delivery among sparkly piano notes that cut the song short. One of the sexiest moments of the album is “Benjamin,” a classic club track destined for dark, foggy dance floors and too many tequila shots. It’s like Alex’s voice has evolved over the course of the EP, testing and straining her own pipes finally to arrive at the confident drawl she delivers here, lost in the haze of trap-and-trill beats. Sweet & Sour ends with “Obviously,” the perfect conclusion; it’s a slinking slow-jam designed to settle the senses after such an emotional ride. Built on sluggish drum pad beats and down-tempo piano making occasional appearances, it’s Alex at her best: vulnerable and confident at the very same time.
With her debut EP, Alex Mali gifts listeners with a collection of hazy R&B songs that suggest years of acquired skill and care far beyond what any other debut could possibly deliver. These are complete songs, songs rich with feeling, songs given depth by vocal and lyrical wonder, songs that are destined for late-night loving. Alex is a quiet storm — she’s a dream.