Over the last decade, Jasmine Sullivan has made herself relatively scarce; after 2010’s ‘Love Me Back’ she waited five years to release follow-up ‘Reality Show’ and this new EP is the first new project from Jasmine since 2015. The long waiting periods between each project have created a heightened sense of anticipation for new material from Jasmine, and given how her fans faithfully return to listen to each new project of hers’, it’s safe to say she hasn’t disappointed thus far.
The 8 full-length tracks we get on ‘Heaux Tales’ are great – just undeniably great. Jazmine’s flow is inexplicably good, her abilities are diverse and wide-ranging: on ‘Put It Down’ she briefly ventures into rap, on ‘Lost One’ she taps into a softer, understated power, while on ‘Pick Up Your Feelings’ she taps into her powerful, gospel vocals. Meanwhile, the collaborations with artists like H.E.R. and Anderson .Paak work so well it is as if they were always destined to work together.
Meanwhile, the themes confronted on this album are cohesive and multi-dimensional: ‘Antoinette’s Tale’ delivers a message of female, sexual empowerment, while ‘Donna’s Tale’ takes a more critical look about how women use their own sexuality. Often times on ‘Heaux Tales’, the perspectives offered are genuinely unexpected and intriguing (like on ‘Rashida’s Tale’: which tells the story of an affair through the eyes of the adulterer) and, when they’re more conventional, they’re good enough that it doesn’t matter.
However, any discussion of the EP has to include mention of both it’s length and structure. After a six year wait, one has to imagine that many fans were hoping not just for an EP – but for a full length album – and this yearning isn’t helped by the fact that this EP kind of feels uncomplete. A good EP is short and sweet: a short trip down an exciting lane, albeit one that doesn’t feel like it warrant’s further exploration. However, the sound and ideas of ‘Heaux Tales’ feel as though they could’ve – and should’ve – been extended into a full album: these great tracks leave listeners yearning for more. Moreover, the inclusion of several “tales” in between tracks – i.e. spoken word sections given from the perspective of various women – while adding humanity to this EP, often times feel like interruptions to the flow of this album. Two – or maybe even three – of these “tales” would’ve been a great compliment to this EP, but when you can’t ever get through more than two tracks without a spoken section, it feels excessive.
Ultimately, what’s good about ‘Heaux Tales’ is really, really good, but too often this is unnecessarily interrupted by spoken word or simply doesn’t last long enough. On most albums, this would be a deal-breaker, but the best parts of ‘Heaux Tales’ are so damn great that for a moment it almost feels like this EP’s flaws don’t matter.
‘Heaux Tales’ by Jazmine Sullivan // R&B // Released: January 8th 2021 // Who would like this album: fans of SZA, H.E.R., Beyonce and, Chloe x Halle
Best tracks: Bodies (Intro), Pick Up Your Feelings, Lost One