Jack Riedy wants you to hang up and try again.
As finals season approaches, Oberlin-via-Chicago R&B singer Kopano is back with a new single. The song is “Healin,’” their first release since debut EP Just In Time For Love last year. At a scant two minutes and fifteen seconds, the track is a tantalizing glimpse of the young singer’s growth.
“Healin’” stems from the aftermath of a breakup, waking up and enjoying the few seconds before the memory of emotional wreckage returns. “I would get so frustrated with myself for acting out in ways that seemed unchangeable,” they said via email. “Until I realized we are all healing and trying to improve ourselves in some way.” There’s comfort in camaraderie. Kopano’s nimble voice addresses everyone and no one, singing “Aren’t you getting tired of being so very tired?”
Kopano’s warm sound is undercut with a sense of foreboding. The backup vocals are deepened an octave, reminiscent of screw music, or, more likely for a college freshman in 2018, A$AP Mob’s version of screw music. Kopano’s lowered lilt has a brassy timbre, but it sounds sinister paired with the chorus’ yearning melody. Billy Lemos’ minimal rhythm production is barely percussion at all. Besides a muffled kick, the only drums keeping time are bells and cymbals, clattering in the periphery. The tonal dissonance suggests negativity bubbling up from the subconscious, lurking a few octaves lower as Kopano’s voice reaches upwards to heal.
After the last chorus, Kopano sings “my love, my love” before fading away like a phone call cut short. The difficulties haven’t dissipated, but Kopano’s song offers a brief respite and reassurance. It’s a new shade of emotion for the singer, more nuanced than the primary colors of love and jealousy. “Healin’” radiates the beauty of patience. It should help ease the wait for more music.