RnB in the past few years has toed this path of vulnerability. Singers opening up about personal life issues, detailing their pains into tracks, helping listeners understand they’re not the only one dealing with emotional turmoil. It’s this template newcomer, Ayra Starr also embodies in her self-titled debut project.
And on this project, she details her feelings, letting us into her troubled world. Opener “Away” is the most emotional cut of the record. Aided by a lightweight mix of gently strummed guitar chords and slow percussion, Ayra Starr is expressive about the issues of the heart. She’s that girl who’s recently gone through a heartbreak but the man keeps coming back, begging for another chance to right his wrongs. But Ayra sings with this hurt in her voice, it’s distinct, assuming a commanding tone but it’s presented in a soothing manner: “This thing done dey pain me/No need to explain please.”
When Ayra Starr deviates from the path of vulnerability, her storytelling suffers a disconnect, her ideas are patchy yet the production comes to her rescue. On “Ija,” the framework of electric guitar and bouncy drums alleviates the vagueness in her songwriting. Here, most listeners will feel restrained, unable to connect with the message Ayra Starr is trying to pass across. However, she sounds exciting, turning the track to a head-bopping, colorful pop sound. And it’s at this point, the vocal resemblance to Tems becomes visible, especially with the vocal stretches and intonation at 1:43 sharing a similar feel.
Ayra Starr seems to have a fondness for fingerpicked guitar and somber piano melodies as it serves as the sonic foundation for most tracks on the record. When merged with her emotional baggage, it easily translates to the best song on the record. “Ditr” evokes feelings of youthful exuberance, perhaps the moment where the EP received an awakening. She’s at vulnerable best here, telling a story of Gen Z troubles and the failure of parents to understand what their kids are going through. Her delivery is ethereal and with the underlying vocal chops, it turns into a wholesome experience. Yet it’s the topic she addresses that makes this a flawless track.
“Sare” in structure is like “Ija”. But it’s just Ayra in her expressive mode. She’s not doing too much, instead it sounds like an expository track you sing at the first audition at Project Fame for the judges to acknowledge your vocal prowess. Topically it comes across as an antidote to the pain in “Away” with the words leaning on reuniting with a loved one, once lost.
“Memories” brings the EP to a halt as a cinematic song. She’s soft and smooth here. It’s that final song that plays at the prom dance accompanied with a gentle, slow dance move. Remove those skittering drums and it’s the perfect track that climaxes the prom dance. Slow, gentle, wrapping your beloved in a warm embrace as you enjoy that moment.
Overall, Ayra Starr self-titled project is an exposition into her world. The songs are the guiding lights, each song opening listeners into the experiences she’s had so far at her youthful age. As a debut project, it serves as an opportunity for the music space to get to know who the new Mavin newbie is. A showcase of her talent: her musicianship, vocal power, and the thoughtful song construction.
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here