Shelley Nicole’s voice is familiar, like hair being braided on a stoop, like the memory of your first kiss, like finding out your crush is crushing on you too, it’s like that magical childhood summer that you’ll never forget. New found love will get you sprung and I Am American, her third studio album, is intoxicating like new love—you don’t know what to expect next, you are just sprung.
Shelley’s latest album feels like the a reflection of the ups and downs of womanhood, the story is about the journey and not necessarily the destination. That is why I Am American unfolds cinematically in our ears.
“Power on the Floor” has a vibrant, live-band sound that shapes Shelley’s hearty vocals. In her words, “When you recognize you’re on the ground, you can get up!” Letting us know that there is power in our breakdowns in life and that no matter what comes next, it is us that have the power to be the change in the world that we want to see. The song “blaK Girls” embodies the frantic pace of black womanhood in America – the keys themselves race the drums, keeping the pace timely and rapid.
The first track I heard was “Punnany Politixxx,” I looovvveee how Shelley lets this new administration know that our country was ‘founded’ on the freedom of choice and that every woman has the right to choose what happens with her body. How often do we see politicians usurp women’s rights just to have a platform for their political aspirations? It is beautiful seeing a sister use her art to revolutionize her right not just to be an American but letting us know that SHE is an American. After all, this country was built on the spines and blood of our ancestors. There is power in the punanny that Shelley speaks of and it is an energy that gets to be respected by not just the government but by everyone.
While the instruments are heavenly, there are few storytellers as good as Shelley and she shines on “Somebody to Love You:”
“Here’s somebody to love you baby, here’s somebody to love your childish ways…loving you, loving me.”
It’s what any of us longs to have and hold, someone loving us as we are whole, perfect, and complete. Loving us through failures and in our flaws. It is an ode to finding comfort in the arms of another. Both men and women can appreciate the serenity of that type of love. She sings like an overprotective siren, striking an unimaginable balance between sexy and soothing inside of this gentle affirmation of affection.
The Bluesy “Out of My Mind” in my opinion is one of the most epic, exhibiting the rage, pain, and exhaustion of a broken heart. It sounds as if she is someone who was ready to reconcile and start love anew with someone who was not in alignment, someone who wasn’t ready to let go of the past and stand present with her in the moment. You hear her quivering over and over, “…say you love me.”
There are songs that let you know she isn’t just about broken hearts and politics. She also lets us know that she is a woman awakened in “Can’t Blame a Tree” and “I Am American” with a gritty feel that teleports me back Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged and Miseducation. Shelley is every facet of beautiful black womanhood. In one moment she’s a woman fed up, been to the bottom, stood on top, a woman who is experience every inch of her experience. She owns all of who she is and makes no apologies. She has mastered the formula of candlelit, slow-cooker music. Her sense of humor and sensuality, fine-tuned, endearing and bold, is infused throughout this album, Jill Scott once said, “Some people don’t understand how music can build up a man.”
Clearly, it can build up a powerful woman, flaws and all. I am here for Shelley Nicole’s album I Am American , it’s an A+ gold mine. Shelley, I am toasting you with a glass of champagne because you are clearly here to leave this world better than you found it.
I Am American, is out NOW on all digital platforms (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Music, etc.) “Punanny Politixxx” official video Available NOW on YouTube! Watch it NOW and SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel.