Rising R&B artist Summer Walker first introduced her soulfully hypnotizing sound to the world with vibrant tracks “CPR” and “Girls Need Love” (its remix recently jumped on by none other than Drake) from her debut album, October’s Last Day of Summer. The 22-year-old Atlanta native is signed to Interscope imprint LVRN Records and has just blessed the world with a live, four-track EP and accompanying music video entitled CLEAR. With arrangements reminiscent of an episode of Unplugged or a Tiny Desk Concert, the visuals for CLEAR pull the viewer into an ethereal world full of fields of greenery as we watch her perform at a locally-famous AirBnB treehouse perfectly lit for the music’s captivating moods.
The video opens with Summer gracefully stepping onto a bridge to the treehouse, with alluring bass chords inviting us in to hear the beginnings of “Settling” and the sadness in her lyrics. The tune builds through keys and a backup vocalist, with gentle drumming bringing it all home.
Walker moves outside to strum her guitar on the porch for “Riot”, her stripped and simple playing contrasting with her honest vocals. Lyrics like, “You think of roses and daisies/ And I think of passion and fire like Hades/ You say all the time, peace and quiet/ But for my love, I need a riot” are immediate and resonant--being with someone who suddenly doesn’t fulfill your wants or needs can be disheartening, and Walker expresses this beautifully. The song is melodic, straight to the point, and intimately familiar.
Back inside the cosy bungalow, Walker closes the set with “Grave,” nodding as cymbals, bongos, and tambourine carry out the rhythm with the smooth bass, guiding our heads to bop along while she sings, “One more n**** come around these parts/ Talkin that shit, put it on my grave.” It’s evident she’s fed up with people repeatedly lying with the same old worn-out pickup lines, and I find myself shaking my head and agreeing. The song effortlessly simmers down with a drum solo and Walker gently riffing, as it becomes clear that this EP is all about the push-and-pull of being deep in love, yet questioning it and yearning for something more.
CLEAR really is a transparent introduction to an artist--there aren’t unnecessarily complex lyrics for the listener to decode, and the songs aren’t overcrowded with more instrumentation than is needed. Summer Walker shines bright amidst other young R&B artists with a unique voice and personal, relatable lyrics, and I’m confident we’ll be hearing more from her in the foreseeable future.