Published Oct 12, 2018It's always tricky when an emerging artist drops a full-length album after a big hit single. After the platinum-selling success of "Boo'd Up," expectations are sky-high and the pressure is on to populate the project with various iterations of the crowd-pleasing track. After a slew of EPs and singles, UK-born singer and songwriter Ella Mai knows her musical mode — a mashup of R&B sounds from over the decades, with a modern mindset.
Her self-titled debut delivers vibes along the lines of "Boo'd Up," which is all folks are really looking for at this point. She definitely knows her audience: tracks like "Sauce," "Emotion" and "Cheap Shot" offer up perspectives of love, fidelity and relationships in a dangerous time. "Everything" brings out John Legend for a peculiar but serviceable duet, while "Gut Feeling" has H.E.R blessing the proceedings with two like-minded musicians delivering pretty much what you'd expect after these two share a studio.
This is all to say that there's isn't much not to like with Ella Mai. Nothing groundbreaking, but a good modern soul album that draws on specific touchpoints — late '90 to early '00s R&B filtered by way of trap-minded beats — curated to today's audience. (10 Summers / Universal)