K. Forest Is a Breath of Fresh Air to Toronto's R&B Scene on 'Welcome to the Wildfire'

K. Forest Is a Breath of Fresh Air to Toronto's R&B Scene on 'Welcome to the Wildfire'
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After Drake and the Weeknd rose to stardom with their lovelorn, pop-tinged R&B, it unleashed a storm onto their hometown of Toronto. The city became increasingly known for its ability to churn out hopelessly romantic singers — while some have managed to carve their own path out like Daniel Caesar, others sound too similar to their forebears. Enter K. Forest: a crooner from Toronto who effortlessly balances sensuous bedroom-ready tracks and vulnerable ballads dedicated to the women in his life. On Welcome to the Wildfire, the follow-up to 2018's Forest Fire II, he firmly establishes himself as one of the city's most intimate vocalists and songwriters.

The album begins with the braggadocious "Offshore," arguably the album's least intimate track, which focuses on how much more lavish his life has become. He isn't interested in showing his love; rather, the opener is a reminder that K. Forest is here and that the next 30 minutes will be spent living in his world. He understands his desirability and his self-indulgence is apparent across the brief 10 tracks, especially on "My Turn Interlude" and "D.B.L," the latter of which is about pressuring his debtors to not be late on his payments. These are the few spots on Welcome to the Wildfire that deter from an otherwise honest and vulnerable affair.

K. Forest is at his apex when he's crooning about lost love, especially shown on "Summer We Never Had." The sensual bedroom jam is a story of reminiscing, the tale of a past love that sees him yearning for a summer spent together. This fictitious narrative K. Forest created in his head only has him languishing over a puppy love that ended right after Toronto's notoriously cruel winter and before a more promising summer. Even if that means just spending time together in an empty parking lot, his desire for it is still strong.

Most of Welcome to the Willdfire's themes are accomplished when K. Forest is in his loverboy bag. His songwriting proves that he's not just a playboy, but someone who actually wants to be present for his partners. His lust for love is palpable. On "Snowstorm," he longs for someone in another country who he's barred from seeing her thanks to the ongoing pandemic: "As soon as I cross the border / We'll be crossing the line / It's been a while since I showed up."

K. Forest doesn't reinvent the R&B wheel with Welcome to the Wildfire, but he breathes fresh air into a sound that Toronto artists have beaten into the ground. His tender songwriting and laidback instrumentals are the perfect combination for a Valentine's Day-ready album that came a month too late. (Independent)