After three years, the Belgian singer-songwriter Selah Sue has finally revealed Reason, the fantastic followup to her show-stopping self-titled debut. She displays the same, invigorating force captured on Selah Sue, but on this new record the true grit of her stark, soul-stirring chops feels more palpable than ever before. Over Reason‘s sophisticated and stunning reggae-pop, for the first time, Selah sings about love. “Sadness” was written and produced in Jamaica with Troy Taylor, who in the past has worked with R&B legends Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. Despite the utter conviction of her searing howl, especially when she pierces the top of her range on the line “I do it all for the pain I’m in,” the rhythm’s graceful bounce feels jovial and the accompanying bass and guitar melodies are sunny and vibrant.
Much of the new record embraces a fondness for the past, conjuring up brilliant images of 70s funk and 60s soul: “Always Home” is her conceptually extravagant but musically sparse, Sam Cooke at The Copacabana-style big room ballad. Led only by a lone acoustic guitar riff and the crisp, clear tenor of Selah Sue’s formidable vocal chords, the track gets fuller and gains and momentum with eerily overdubbed vocals and soaring string arrangements. “You’re the only place I know/ When I have nowhere left to go,” she sings, “Maybe I’m be lonely after I go home,” her absolute heartache too genuine to be feigned.
Watch an interview view and live outdoor performances of “Always Home,” “Feel,” and “Reason” via France’s Canal+.