Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Ten Fold finds Yaya Bey delving further into bite-sized R&B fantasies

"Ten Fold"

Release date: 10 May 2024
Yaya Bey Ten Fold cover
08 May 2024, 09:00 Written by Noah Barker

Yaya Bey makes it work.

Melody tripping in between vocal registers as if she’s being conducted by a child with a music aversion? Smooth as butter. Tracks trimmed down passed the bare necessities of song structure? Let’s make them free-flowing vignettes. General lack of instrumental cohesion across the record? No, there’s not. Toxic relationships keeping you down? Actually – fuck ‘em. It’s resolutely clear from the breathtaking opening moments of the record to its coast down into denouement that those people are not our problem to fix. Everything else, according to Bey, is a matter of remaining inflexible.

The record progresses like a flow chart of memories and affirmations, each of them sultry and introspective; it’s the sound of missing a city bus on a rainy day, but enjoying the long walk afterwards. Bey may be utilizing an instrumental palette apt to be accused of mishmashing and needless juxtaposing, but her technique is more refined than that critique.

Her sense of production and tracklist flow are twin flames; the opening tracks of the record have a gloriously uneasy sense of beginning, but more in terms of knowing that newness only comes with some past receding. She also engages in the dwindling art of ending a record when it is released, with moments of finality, as opposed to deluxe versions released the week after plaguing the music sphere like auditory DLCs.

A groove to Bey is not straightforward so much as it is a winding country road taken out by an EF5 tornado; a four-to-the-floor dance groove is a luxury the warped BPMs of this record can afford but withholds for maximum effect. More often than others would give the time of day, Bey works the macro scale for rhythmic, emotional, and narrative payoff. A beat drop or narrative penny drop may not arrive in every interlude and interstitial moment, but as pianos coast the record away as cathartically as it arrived, something was learned somewhere.

To a subdued fault, the record is holistic, with fractures taken as individual tracks; it’s an odd-couple pairing, juxtaposing genres with the expectation a long game or method will present itself. It does, if not only emotionally. Again, this is Bey’s talent as an instrumental storyteller; genres are sequenced and held for their parts, yet respected like caged animals. Organs are the sound of the beginning, pianos of a demise; a dance groove is the motion of the middle, and forthright attitudes are evergreen. She’s a voice for all environments, a chameleon turning the world around it a different shade.

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