Written by Rahoul Naik
Allana Verde is one of the newer R&B singers to come out of cosmopolitan talent pool that is London. Boasting a beautiful range and an ability to find pockets of space between a variety of beats from 90’s R&B to 80’s Pop and 00’s Hip-Hop, Verde is on the verge of following in the footsteps of local stars like Jorja Smith, Mabel and Ella Mai.
Allana was raised by her mother, regularly travelling back and forth between the UK and Jersey City in the United States during her formative years. A musical child, her talent for dancing became apparent when she was four. Upon discovering Allana’s gift, her mother enrolled her into a number of dance schools – one of them being the prestigious Sylvia Young Performing Arts School.
Growing up, she performed all over London – her childhood memories mainly involve auditions and performances. “I would sit in class at school, rehearsing my songs in my head and never really paying attention; just counting down the hours until I could perform”.
Verde’s last effort, Neo-Nostalgia, saw her garner more support from DJs like Sian Anderson and Jamz Supernova, as well as platforms like GRM Daily and Hot 97.
Her new effort comes in the form of 2017’s Broken Record EP that boasts four very neatly tied songs that all show a slightly different side to Verde from unapologetic to vulnerable and enlightened. Even thought the EP is short at 4 songs long, the listener will feel that they have experienced Allana’s world in her own words. It’s a wonderful business card for the young singer.
Starting with the champion single, Bad Side, which premiered on BBC Radio 1Xtra, the track shows Allana’s unique flavour and ability to connect whilst making awesome music you want to hit repeat on. Flashes of 80’s pop merge with R&B classics as they sit on an undercurrent of fresh synths and current styles to draw your ear straight in to the record. It’s an honest, pain-riddled account of the end, and aftermath, of a tumultuous relationship. The track definitely helps set the tone for the record and it’s catchy hook, easy percussion and melodic chords help make this radio friendly too.
It’s Complicated is the next song to really get you dancing alone, most likely in your pyjamas. The track opens up with Verde telling herself to apologise for a mistake she has made in a relationship but then engaging in a tug-of-war with herself about taking the blame. She sings “I won’t show what I’m going through cuz I love him but I want to hate him,” a feeling perhaps a lot of us have felt indeed. Verde’s ability to get such complicated notions of love and relationships across is commendable and I think also very relatable for a new generation that experience love in a whole new way.
The final track of the album, I Know Better Now, is most definitely Verde coming into her own, appreciating her own beauty and strength whilst being completely unapologetic to a former lover. “I should have known better / but I know better now” is the key lyric throughout the song and the more modern R&B beat, full of trill drums, clicks and much more, really helps emphasise the message Verde wants to push over the 2 and a half minutes. Another standout part of the track is Verde’s use of samples, phone recordings and her range that really shines through towards the end of the track.
The best track on the EP comes in the form of the title track, Broken Record. This song is reminiscent of the likes of Kehlani. Verde’s range is again very much used throughout the track but what is most noticeable is her ability to ride a variety of flows and melodies throughout the track. If Verde was a new Grime star, we would already be hailing her for her ability to find pockets and trills in an otherwise fairly run of the mill nu-R&B instrumental. The feeling of Verde having enough of her partner running circles around her with lies is very much present throughout the track and it sometimes feels as if she’s ready to burst free, but still stays true all the way until I Know Better Now.
Allana Verde is a name that a lot of us will be talking about for a long time to come, especially in the upcoming and talented arena of UK R&B including the likes of Jorja Smith, NAO, Ray BLK and Elli Ingram.
Check out the EP below and let us know your thoughts: