Khadeeja Grace - Deep Down (Graced by Burage Music, 2020)
Updated: Aug 17
A real pearl of a single from the Chicago based songwriter and producer, that finds the perfect blend of harmonic intertwining and enriching rhythmic movements.
The voice as a leading light of instrumentation and melody has been an age old thing feature across the spectrum of music. How vocalists blend their voices within the foundations of the music occurring underneath has continually captured the imagination of listeners throughout the 20th century and into the current one, as the emphasis on flowing alongside chord structures and percussive structures showcases a fundamental understanding of the relationships between the two elements. Within dance music in particular, we see perhaps the most imaginative and intuitive representation of the voice, in that it acts in many cases not just as a narrative construct, but as a instrument, as a piece of the puzzle that adds enormously to the melody and its evolution. The vocals help you to feel something, allowing us to connect to the music not just through what the emotive tones of the keys, or the rhythmic stylings of the drums, but as a way in which we start to see the track in a new light. It sparks something within us on many levels, as we become transfixed with the overall package, the vocals and melodic features blending seamlessly into one long sequence of bliss, our minds locked into what the song has to say and what the song is trying to convey on a personal level. Genres like house and garage, borne from the club and the power of vocals, have always pushed the idea of utilising vocals as an emotive and narrative driven tool, and the inclusion has lead to some classic moments and feelings found within tracks that we will never forget. When the blend is just right, these tracks will forever be returned to by any who come across them, the bond between the messages and the melodies something that you cannot deny or turn away from, a power that keeps on giving over via its beautifully considered sound and tone.
Khadeeja Grace is very much a songwriter in this tradition, with her potent blend of vocal driven house orientated cuts really something to marvel at. With a background in production and songwriting, she has worked alongside such icons as Donald Lawrence, Sir The Baptist, Darius Brooks, Percy Bady, Tink, PJ Morton, Brandy and “Stand” from the The Birth of a Nation, and it's this backdrop that allows her to craft such spellbinding tracks of her own. The melodic features and vocals bleed into each other with meaning and intelligence, as she applies her voice not just as an element that glides and hangs above, but firmly embeds itself within the progressions that exist underneath, permeating from the spaces in the chords to craft a musical landscape that is a wonderful balance between narrative and melody. It is here where her talent lies, as she masterfully blends varying genres to conceive tunes that feel refreshingly individual and intrinsic to her style, where the hybridisation between soul, house, r'n'b and jazz flows so naturally and feels so perfectly put together.
That is something which very much leaps out at you from her debut single, 'Deep Down', which will feature on her upcoming debut solo EP, and arrives via Grace's label Grace By Burage Music. This single lands at an exciting time in Grace's career, with upcoming collaborative projects with legendary house producers Chip E. and Steve 'Silk' Hurley, along with Ron Carroll and Jamie 326.
On the single, we move at a graceful flow through the realms of the pre mentioned genres, with Grace's voice that stands right and centre on this one. The dynamics between looping elements and more free flowing vocal lines really capture the imagination, with their presence residing within a sea of flowing instrumentation that does so much to move the mind as it does the body. So, without further delay, lets get into it.
We begin off with the dense skippy swinging drums providing a wonderful foundation within the intro, with the longing synth line occupying the backdrop of the track, hinting at things to come. Before long, the main chord progression comes into play, a deeply moving series of tones that starts off high before doubling back, and its delivery and placement couldn't be more on point, and with that the stage is set for more magic to occur. The looping vocals then come into play, in the form of a wordless ascend that acts much like an addition to the melodic features underneath, creating a spellbinding feel to proceedings, and before long we are greeted to the first vocal line, Grace's voice slotting into the setup with ease and brilliance, and by this point we are really locked into it. The vocals do their bit, as the track then flows into the melodic break, with the vocals permeating on occasions, before swinging back into the vocal fullness, and here we begin to see some wonderful little variations occur. Grace applies not just the full Bodied lines, but adds in some more softly spoken lines that craft some wonderful variations in tone and mood, and certainly helps to keep the engagement very high indeed. This then signals the drums to up the ante, with additional rhythmic features coming into play, along with very light keys that are sprinkled into the structure in such a light yet brilliant way. The manner in which this track develops is all from the vocals, leading the way in relation to switches and changes in the melodic features, tones and layers, and its a flow that is so powerfully pulled off. We then move into the tracks closing moments, where the vocals take time to move between varying representations and moments, with more focus on the singular lines and wordless expressions, and its a pretty magnificent way to see out a track that will continually have you coming back for more. What a wonderful cut.
Grace demonstrates here a real knack for the extraordinary, and might have showcased a new way in which we appreciate vocal driven dance music. Its not just the way in which the vocals come across in such an articulate and expressive way, but the dynamics in which they exist and balance themselves, acting as a tool to move the track in and around the melodic structures that evolve underneath. Her ability to embed and involve the vocals within the instrumentation allows for the track to be read as a overall package, and what is found within is a marvel. A superb blend of genres and some fine vocal work to boot, its a track that leaves us very excited indeed to see what the rest of the EP is going to look like. A true piece of brilliance from Grace, with an eye on the future that looks incredibly bright indeed.
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