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The Indiana Daily Student

arts music

COLUMN: Stunning vocals can’t save Chlöe’s debut solo studio album

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Chlöe is no stranger to the album recording process. By the time she started working on her debut solo album “In Pieces,” she had already been working for eight years as half of the infamous R&B duo Chlöe x Halle, composed of herself and her sister Halle.  

The switch to solo artistry began in 2019, but Chlöe really started gaining momentum in 2021 when Halle began filming for the 2023 live adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” in which she plays Ariel. Apart from her sister for the longest stretch since they began their music careers, Chlöe set out to record music that was initially intended to be used for the duo, but transformed into her own project.  

The resulting album, “In Pieces,” was released through Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records on March 31, 2023. Following an impressive initial rollout with singles "Have Mercy," "Treat Me," "Surprise" and "For the Night," the album took a huge turn when all four singles were scrapped and a new lead single titled "Pray It Away" was released. 

"Pray It Away," a gorgeous, gospel-inspired piece, was accompanied by an equally stunning music video featuring Chlöe inside a nearly regal church joined by four dancers. Chlöe’s vocals, are the highlight of the track. The resulting song is a self-love anthem that preaches the power of meditating on frustration and disappointment. 

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Following "Pray It Away," the second single released was "How Does It Feel," featuring R&B star and known-abuser Chris Brown. The collaboration, while not uncommon within the world of R&B, generated a slew of criticism from fans disappointed in the singer’s choice of feature. "How Does It Feel" also received a music video starring both artists. The song, though controversial, was another great example of Chlöe’s artistry with lush vocals and lyrics that perfectly capture regret and sorrow. The song ends with a bit of a cappella that seamlessly transitions into the following track, “Feel Me Cry.” 

Other singles included “Body Do” and the title track “In Pieces,” both released within a week before the release of the completed album. “In Pieces” felt particularly reminiscent of Rihanna’s “Stay,” an idea that makes sense upon realizing it was co-written by Mikky Ekko, a co-writer and performer on the Rihanna song. Listeners like myself, however, would be disappointed with the resulting product which failed to live up to the hype established by the singles.  

The album has 14 tracks in total and, in addition to Chris Brown, features Missy Elliott and Future. Chlöe is credited as the lead producer on the bulk of the album and as a writer on all but three songs. With certain chaotic moments like the disorganized and overstimulating “I Don’t Mind” and “Told Ya,” listeners have to wonder whether Chlöe’s role in the production of the album truly served the overall product.  

While it’s certainly impressive — especially for a solo debut — that she was so involved in the album’s creation, Chlöe’s writing and production abilities seem to be noticeably lacking in comparison with her vocal and performance abilities. One of the finest songs lyrically is the title track, which Chlöe had no hand in writing. 

Despite moments of mediocrity on the album, if there’s one thing Chlöe has proved with her singles, both those included on the album and not, it’s that she has the ability to be one of the best performers and vocalists of our generation. While “In Pieces” didn’t live up to its full potential as an album, it’s certain that Chlöe will still deliver amazing performances for her loyal fans. 

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