If you are a Lyrics Born or Quannum Projects fan, chances are you already know songstress Joyo Velarde. The hip-hop/funk/soul vocalist has put her stamp on numerous joints with her future hubby along with other Quannum acts. And before taking the stage herself with a solo LP scheduled to drop this year, she offers us a quick self-titled EP that falls flat. Where Velarde and her team of producers deserve ample credit is in the effort displayed on here. There is no bubblegum-pop aimed at breaking into the Top 40. Instead, the vocalist and her crew, in true Quannum style, have taken a step back into the ‘90s and even the ‘80s. So it’s safe to say the production is, if nothing else, refreshing. And it’s especially satisfying when Velarde sounds at home over the beats and instruments, such as on the atmospheric and melodic EP-opener “Build This World” and poppy “Take You Home”.
But where the former Opera-student falls short is in portions of her execution. Velarde has a strong set of pipes, there is no question there. Some of her key choices, though, are somewhat odd, particularly on “The Way We Are”. She sounds strained as she hits falsettos over the fine production from Lyrics Born and Jumbo, who laced the beat with horn stabs and an upbeat vibe. Even on other tracks when she sounds more comfortable, Velarde still struggles. Though this is a disappointing effort, there is still hope for her upcoming debut LP, Love and Understanding. It’s set to feature even more strength behind the boards from the likes of Jake One and RJD2. And, with any luck, it will also contain improved and more refined songwriting.
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