Evan Gabriel knows how to speak Australian.
Admitting fault feels terrible, but doing so can free up a lot of mental bandwidth. On her most recent collaboration with producer XXYYXX, Australian R&B songstress Vanessa Elisha compartmentalizes struggles through her past relationships. Elisha revisits the memories that forced her to stay in bed, before trading off with the vengefulness that fills the chorus: “It must be so hard to be so lonely,” she croons over the soulful chord progression.
XXYYXX keeps the beat cavernous, save for the trickling percussion that swoops in and out. The playfulness with which Elisha’s voice changes still leaves more of her strong falsetto to be desired. Elisha’s trepidation on “Dark & Lonely” sounds valid. It’s easy enough to picture an ex who insists on viewing all Snapchat stories. Like many of my favorite singles, this one sounds hollowed-out and sinister, stripped to just narration and some smoke-gray atmosphere for context. There are little to no frills, conceptually and technically (aside from a few voice-tuning tricks that briefly sound reminiscent of some of the producer’s older works).
“Dark & Lonely” is an apt follow-up to the pair’s single, “Good Ones Go,” a Drake cover that dropped this year. Vanessa Elisha soars over spaced-out, sunken production that feels at home on large festival stages. Also recommended in this realm is “Latency” featuring CVIRO. It’s electronic R&B for afternoons near the water and reflective evenings by yourself. This is the kind of schedule I imagine Nicole Kidman keeps during the summer months (which are December-February, of course).