Published Oct 25, 2011Thoughts of Oakland-based singer-songwriter Goapele are inextricably linked to the early 2000 neo-soul movement, with 2001's hit favourite "Closer" and its endless remixes. Despite following up with two major label records ― Closer (2002) and Change It All (2005) ― the Bay Area songstress has been known more by casual listeners for the eponymous track and the many singles that followed. Break of Dawn aims to change that. The project functions as a reintroduction of sorts, revealing that Goapele (now a mother of a young daughter) has continued to evolve both as an artist and live performer after a six-year hiatus. Shaking off that passé neo-soul label, the project (released on her SkyBlaze indie label) is a curious mix of R&B, pop and soul. Haunted first single "Play" encapsulates her vibe: a modest sensuality that hints at a deeper, more-than-meets-the-eye conceit. The retro-feeling title track further sets the stage, while the head swaying vibe of "Milk & Honey" feels like "Closer 2K11," and begs you to forgive the use of Auto-Tune throughout. "Undertow" stands out on the seductively plaintive tip, "Money" owes more than a debt of gratitude to Prince and the mainstream-friendly "Tears On My Pillow" sees her pour her buttery vocals over a bluesy time signature. Indeed, Goapele doesn't as much sing as she grooves, which isn't a diss. Break of Dawn sees her groove on a confident rebirth high, with the aim to appeal to her fan base and casual listeners alike.
Why, after six years, was now the time to release Break of Dawn?
With the album, I got to take my time with it and take a bit of time off with my family. Just a chance to [only] record in the studio when I had something to say, you know? It feels good for me right now to be [on an independent label]; it's always about what makes sense each time. The recording on this album was really paced out and ended up being nine songs that are of different feelings, experiences and inspirations that I've had. It was really just capturing the moment and being in the moment. It's a good variety of songs and the feeling and vibe I was feeling at the time will come off.
How do you define your sound at this point in your career?
The simplest way to describe my music would be "soul R&B." Categorizing myself is always challenging, for me, and also limiting sometimes. As an artist and songwriter, I just try to keep evolving. There are so many musical influences that the music I do tends to bleed into other categories. I am constantly changing the way I measure success. Success is a very individualized thing; I keep setting goals and try to reach them. Once I reach my goals, I make more. I think it's an accomplishment to be able to have a musical career for over a decade now, so I'm happy about that. (Skyblaze)