Artist: Kadhja Bonet
Genre: Vocal Jazz, Psychedelic Soul
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Another Time Lover (3:38)
Delphine (5:54) 146 bpm
Thoughts Around Tea (2:12)
Mother Maybe (4:15) 186 bpm
Second Wind (4:08)
Childhood used to be a phase. Now, it’s a lifestyle. Whether your inner child seeks coloring books, Capri Suns, or gourmet PB&J, those urges can easily be satiated. This surplus of nostalgia has become so normalized that we have a term for when responsibilities disrupt the sugar rush: adulting. You can only say it with a sigh.
There’s an undercurrent of deep dissatisfaction with adulthood in all this childhood worship, but you won’t find it in Kadhja Bonet’s Childqueen. The psych-soul singer envisions childhood as a becoming rather than a refuge. To be a childqueen is to unearth the pneuma buried beneath adult insecurities and anxieties and self-effacement. The childqueen is not longed for or lost to time; always near, she is summoned. And it isn’t a coincidence that she’s a queen. “We have to be brave enough to bend or break our social inheritance. We have to teach our girls confidence. We have to teach our girls that it’s OK to be seen, to take up space, to use our voices and make mistakes,” Bonet told DIY in 2016, alluding to the gendered undertones of her own struggles with confidence.
Shedding the self-conscious shell of her ornate but bashful 2016 debut, The Visitor, Bonet finds a voice that is expansive and engulfing on Childqueen. It swells, it ascends, it cuts, it carries. Lead single “Mother Maybe” casually sways between warm, balmy coos and surging, sustained shrieks. It is neither an ode to her own mother nor a song of herself, but in it Bonet treats motherhood with wide-eyed wonder, cherishing the mere capacity to produce life. Her voice curls deftly around the shared consonants in “mother” and “maybe,” blurring the words while dwelling on their differences. “Mother maybe/I may be mother,” she chants in the final bridge, scaling her vocal range as she appraises her innate power. The intimacy and joy of her self-recognition feel like a reversal of the movie trope of women looking in mirrors and crying.
by Stephen Kearse