Human Condition, Doleo 33:02 min • wyniemusic.com • July 10, 2012 ………………………………………………………………………………………….Wynter Gordon
The way to get ahead in the music industry nowadays seems to be to write songs for other people. Jessie J and Lady Gaga, two of the biggest pop artists of the past few years, both began their career’s writing hits for other artists, and New York’s (Diane) Wynter Gordon has now stepped out of the studio in the same footsteps. After guesting on tracks by David Guetta and the brilliant ‘Ladi Dadi’ by dance guru Steve Aoki, and releasing a debut EP of very current dance-pop, called With The Music I Die, she has unleashed the first part of her new project, an album made of 4 free EP’s examining the Human Condition. Doleo, meaning “Pain” in Latin, is the first part of the series.
It’s interesting that, in examining the human condition with this project, Wynter has chosen pain as the first subject to explore. As an artist, I assume it’s the easiest emotion to harness, and “doleo” can mean either physical pain or mental pain, so the subject matter for the songs on this EP could be as broad as the music; but it’s emotional pain that is focused on here. Opener ‘Giving In’ recalls ‘90s rock chick Billie Myers, with its grinding thump and electric guitars, it’s a million miles away from throwaway club tracks like ‘Dirty Talk’, and it’s lyrics more daring in their desperation than the provocative lyrics of her previous material. You can almost feel the artistic growth seeping through.
The flawless ‘Stimela’ (borrowing heavily from Hugh Masekela song of the same name) and it’s accompanying video, which casts Wynter as a lithe, sexual creature of movement, is what Rihanna has been begging to do for years. Authentic, moving and artistic, the song itself is perfectly epic, intoxicating without being commercial. Wynters’ lyrics,
Life is one big hypocrite, like a knife against the skin, I’m a hostage in this skin, gotta help the weak ones win, so i’m running…
follow the theme’s of the Zulu lyrics used in the chorus, roughly translating to “ride the train to freedom”. The song is a brilliant slice of pop, and also the reason I downloaded this EP. It’s a very tough act to follow. However, the glorious ‘Waiting’ follows on superbly, not only by being completely different, but also another brilliantly intelligent pop song. Almost ripped directly from the ‘80s, ‘Waiting’ is like a retro power ballad produced by electronica giants Pnau, and is more than a stand out track.
‘Kids’, probably the most overtly personal song on the record, and it examines how people change.
You used to be my hero, when we were just kids,
Wynter sings, before explaining,
You left your kids without a mother –
It’s a captivatingly told story, married perfectly with music that seems to have taken its inspiration from the same place as much of Beyonce’s 4 album. There’s echoes of Prince and Earth Wind And Fire in there, and it fits Wynter’s voice perfectly. In fact, much of the album picks up where 4 left off – whilst Beyonce didn’t seem to have the courage to take her love letter to the black music of the ‘70s and ‘80s quite far enough, Wynter has run so far with it that we are bang up to date again, and we end up with a modern retro EP that lovingly respects its inspirations, but at the same time is 100% rooted in 2012.
Elsewhere, there is the sultry electro-pop of ‘Bad Thing’, the infectious and danceable ‘No Hush’, the antidote to the overt sexuality of Rihanna’s ‘Rude Boy’,
Tell me that you love me, Or I just can’t give it away –
And the deep bass of ‘Don’t Waste Your Time’, before ending the EP on the only collaboration, the great, Kelis-esque ‘Nervous’, featuring alternative Hip Hop heavyweight Travis Scott.
There’s a lot of things that have obviously affected Wynter Gordon on her journey to Human Condition. From a strict Christian family, and being heavily defined in the media by the promiscuous lyrical content of some of her dance collaborations, especially the David Guetta collaboration Dirty Talk, has clearly made Wynter assess the messages she wants to put across with her music, and as a result Doleo is a collection of mature, alternative pop songs, all with positive messages of growth and self respect, right from the beautiful artwork to the stunning songs underneath. Yes, I make no secret of the fact that I like my women foul mouthed and offensive, but there are times when I want my pop music to be mature, well written and meaningful rather than light, frivolous and dirty. It’s in such moments that I’ll pipe Wynter Gordon’s beautiful messages through my headphones (as I’m doing right now) and I urge everyone to do the same.
The second instalment of Human Condition, Furor, is out this month, and I can’t wait to see which direction it takes her in.