What happens when you eventually find the person you are meant to be with? Worse yet: What if, after all that time, after all that searching, it doesn't work out, and you find yourself scattered about, pieces of your former self? These are the sort of questions that swirl when listening to Cut 4 Me, the debut mixtape from LA-based singer Kelela.
Much of the beauty on Cut 4 Me lies in its emotional brokenness: "I gave my heart to you, but it seems my love was not enough now/I know you're hurting too, but I lost a place I barely found," she sings on "Something Else," before continuing: "When I remember you, I will remember what it means to carry on." The Maryland-born ingénue has created a sharp and penetrating record full of heart-rending devastation, a sound so wrought with deep affection, so sparse its in delivery, it's hard not to question your own emotional truths, ugly as they may be. The sound itself—the tangled snyths on "Keep It Cool," the hypnotic bass on "Floor Show," the naked self-assurance of "Send Me Out"—is a work of pristine architecture. But to strictly talk about the music is unfair. This is an album about love, pain, and loss. Cut 4 Me is Kelela's attempt at reckoning. —Jason Parham