SZA – Ctrl album review: Striking debut release from R&B star

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Artist: SZA
Genre: R&B / Soul
Label: Top Dawg/RCA

Welcome to a gritty, soulful and widescreen new R&B landscape. SZA has previously flouted her credentials as a performer and songwriter, but this debut album is a much more striking affair than earlier releases as the New Jersey singer shows both tough and vulnerable sides with remarkable results.

Her first person confessionals and eye witness accounts about love, feminism, control and relationships in the age of social media, coupled with some sweet and rich musical textures, ensure that this an album with many layers to peel back and reward a deep listen.

She's certainly got a great ear for how language can soothe and sting, a quality which makes her songwriting really connect on Normal Girl and Love Galore.

She's also strong enough not to be dominated by such A-list guests as Kendrick Lamar (Doves In the Wind) or Travis Scott. It's clear to see who's in control on this record.