R&B singer Ella Mai’s social media countdown is finally over for her self-titled debut album, “Ella Mai,” which was released on Oct. 12.
Mai prepared the world for her arrival this past year with her chart-topping hit “Boo’d Up,” which hit 100 million streams on Spotify on Sept. 26.
DJ Mustard discovered her through Instagram videos of her singing in 2015 and soon enough they began working together, releasing three introductory EPs. Signed to Mustard’s label, 10 Summers, Mai began collaborating with him to create her own sound. It led to the releases of her “Time” and “Change” EPs in 2016 and “Ready” in February 2017.
From track one to 16, “Ella Mai” runs through a series of emotions. The first few songs (“Good Bad,” “Dangerous,” “Sauce,” “Whatchamacallit feat. Chris Brown” and “Cheap Shot”) detail failed relationships where she must cut ties with those who hurt her. By the time the album reaches “Shot Clock” Mai has done some self-reflection, realizing letting go is necessary for her happiness.
The album begins with a somber Mai on a 12-second track uttering the definition of emotion “E: Emotion. A natural instinct of state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances. Mood or relationship with others. A rollercoaster.” This sets the mood for the entirety of the album as a self-reflective, loving and exciting inside look into her life. The British singer-songwriter uses a variety of drum beats and guitars accompanied by vocals from Chris Brown, John Legend and H.E.R. throughout the album.
In the second song, “Good Bad,” Mai implies a relationship flaw many couples have to face when sharing your life with someone else. “So what if I wake up with an attitude?” she asks.
Similarly to the previously released single “Trip,” this song is extremely catchy. From the third song “Dangerous” to “Cheap Shot,” Mai was evidently seeking a more fast-paced blend in this new album. With the quick beats and “I don’t wanna be with you anymore” kind of lyricism, she has seemingly channeled other artists.
Then from track seven, “Boo’d Up,” to track 16, “Naked,” Mai goes through a transformation. The songs reflect the emerging emotions one feels when a new unfamiliar relationship begins. Getting closer to someone can lead to the inevitability of going through heartbreak. The beginning of “Close” signifies the desire to get closer even though there will be some kind of pain through it all.
“Gut Feeling” feat H.E.R. signals the beginning of a relationship, where the butterflies are all over the place and there’s nothing one can do but enjoy them and see where things go with that person. She says “A, Aware,” “For now I am aware, and as I stare into your soul, I see it clear, can we start again from here?”
The entire album is about sharing an immense connection with someone. The messages in the beginning and end of some of the tracks also unnoticeably spell out something: E.L.L.A. M.A.I. She allowed this album to become her diary and it’s a reflection of Ella and her love life as a whole, without leaving out any details.