The romantic idea of creating a space for unconstrained expression is illustrated musically on b., the recently released EP by the Atlanta R&B singer BOSCO. The project shares a similar aesthetic to Blood Orange‘s Freetown Sound and Solange’s A Seat at the Table in how it reverberates as an intimate respite from the country’s consistent horrors. b. isn’t overtly sociopolitical, though, and it feels more like a promising work-in-progress than a finished product.
BOSCO’s 2015 solo debut effort BOY—a six-track EP that was at turns sceptic and sinuous—showed promise, featuring a singer whose airy presence never really clouded her fidelity. But the sanguine hues and frosty production didn’t mark her as a definitive artist, and b.—whose cover shows its star sun-kissed under a blue sky—allows BOSCO to breathe a bit. The improvements are immediately apparent: The bubbling synths on lead track “Adrenaline” lends an accessible bounce, and the colorfully melodic “Castles” finds BOSCO convincingly blending her natural playfulness with Kate Bush operatics.
While b. is painted in loose, oceanic palettes, the project never loses its form. The production does sound staid at points, its dreaminess often stumbling into lethargy around its midway point, but BOSCO consistently regains confidence, slipping from staccato exhales to wordless coos, particularly on the Anna Wise-featuring “We Cool.”
The phrasings buoys her lyrics, which are largely plainspoken looks at a relationship postmortem. They’re sometimes palatable (“In my hand I hold your life span,” she jabs on “Castles”) and at other points recyclable (In the “Cruel” chorus: “Don’t be cruel / ‘Cause I will never be that cruel to you,” which comes across as a limp Bobby Brown reference than a homage), but they don’t quite show the sharpened perspective of her peers. But b.‘s main success is the sort of atmosphere it creates: It’s cathartic even if what it’s saving the listener from isn’t always clear.