Harleighblu’s “Futurespective:” Merging Electronica, Soul, and Female Empowerment
Artist Harleighblu brings electronic baselines to passionate soul music in her latest album, appealing to lovers of techno and jazz alike.
By Ariana Mozafari
Harleighblu was destined for two things: soul, and revamping soul to appeal to the modern, techno-worshipping listener. The Nottingham-born English artist grew up listening to her mother’s classic soul albums and was partly named after her mother’s obsession with jazz singer Peggy Blu. When she released her first album, Forget Me Not, Harleighblu established herself as a talented soul singer who stood out for her raw, powerful lyrics, leading many to speculate whether this 24-year-old could be the next Amy Winehouse. Her latest album, however, adds a modern twist to the traditional genre. Futurespective, which came out on June 3, is a mélange of soul and electronic music, which surprisingly works. The combination of minimalist electronic beats created by different electronic producers and Harleighblu’s free-flowing vibratos makes for dreamy soundscapes, from which we are jolted awake by the artist’s penetrating lyrics.
“Last night, I lost my keys, and a night before, my shoe / Took ‘em off ‘cuz they burned my feet and the next thing you knew / They were gone with my dignity and a taxi I jumped to.” These lyrics come from “Mmm,” just one of the many songs from Harleighblu’s latest album that speak frankly and openly to listeners. Whereas her first album featured songs about cheating boyfriends and young love, Harleighblu says her latest album is a coming-of-age piece as a woman in her 20s.
Her song “Mmm” recounts the crazy party lives of many young women in their 20s; “For Fun” is about how women should be able to sleep with whoever they want to without being judged; “Tell ‘Em” tells listeners not to sacrifice one’s identity for others. “This album is more me,” said Harleighblu. “I was partying a lot, I was experiencing lots of different things, I was single for the first time in years. Everything is a lot more real and a lot more honest.”
The electronic beats that accompany Harleighblu’s vocals were also inspired by the artist’s nightclub outings in Great Britain. “Our scene is very electronic in England,” said Harleighblu. “It’s very on-trend. There are new different genres of music created almost monthly, and you’re just around it, so you absorb it.” Harleighblu began dropping electronic baselines during her shows, and because of the positive reactions from the audience, decided to create her next album in the style of “electro-soul.”
Futurespective features different electronic producers on almost all of its tracks, such as SpectraSoul’s bold, funky beats for “Real Good” or Lost Midas’ jazzy, light electro accompaniment for “I.” Although adopting electronic elements in soul music may seem sacrilegious to soul purists, Harleighblu understands that in order to appeal to a larger audience, artists should consider the mainstream musical tastes of each generation. “Every generation of musicians and artists has a sound of their era, and it dominates their era,” she said, recognizing electronic music as the current reigning sound. “Our generation is quite experimental. We’re not afraid to dash a bit of grime or dubstep in with some really soulful, pretty vocals on top.”
Fusing jazz and electronica together certainly helps draw in fans of both genres of music. Soul lovers will love Harleighblu’s passionate delivery and female-empowering lyrics; electro fans will appreciate the collaboration between killer vocals and head-bopping beats. No matter what music genre you prefer, Harleighblu’s Futurespective is an exemplar of how to attract a wide range of music lovers while still remaining true to the soul.