Tinashe’s “Songs for You” is by far the closest the pop singer has come to establishing a concrete sound. Since she released “2 On” in 2014, it seems as if her musical identity has been in constant flux. Each album in her discography has shown a different side of her as an artist, ranging from alternative grooves to play during late-night car rides to tracks for the dance floor. Much of the change could be attributed to her desire to consistently self-reinvent, but it appears that a rocky relationship with former record label RCA may have also interfered with the artist’s creative control. “Songs for You” is Tinashe’s first independent album since splitting with the label and the project glows with a resounding feeling of newfound confidence.
Tinashe is in top form on the album, which hit #1 on iTunes within days of release. Songs like “Hopscotch” and “Link Up” feature catchy dance beats and fearless lyrics like “Yeah, I bet you wanna see me naked, don’t ya?” that are guaranteed to inspire a slew of YouTube and TikTok dance videos over the next couple of months.
The album’s production makes ample use of the booming basses first heard in Tinashe’s debut album. In “Hopscotch,” Tinashe shouts out her hometown Los Angeles. The entire album seems to be full of songs that bring the well-rounded artist back to her roots in one way or another.
The artist’s previous albums, the minimalist “Aquarius,” the dark-tinged “Nightride” and the smooth “Joyride,” sound like they were recorded by three completely different artists. “Songs for You” ties these three personas together beautifully into an effortlessly moody style. This fresh start to her sound shows a more mature Tinashe making use of the full range of tools she has acquired from her experience in the industry, not only as a singer, but also a songwriter, dancer and actress. The album especially caters to fans who loved the sultry, calming sound of “Nightride” in singles like “Touch & Go,” where Tinashe sings of struggling to let go of a lost love.
For an artist stepping out independently for the first time, it’s usually either sink or swim. There is something bold and unapologetic about this album that declares Tinashe as a fully-developed artist confident in her own ambitious style. What makes “Songs for You” stand out from her other projects is the fact that it has no one sound, but still manages to sound like a cohesive body of work. Tinashe has never limited herself to being one kind of pop artist and “Songs for You” is a resolute middle finger to anyone who dismissed her music as disjointed because of it.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, print edition. Email Destine Manson at [email protected]