The horse is finally out of the stable. Earlier in the week, Beyoncé confirmed the official title of Renaissance: Act IICowboy Carter. But the “Texas Hold ‘Em” singer wasn’t the only Destiny’s Child member with exciting news. Michelle Williams took to Instagram to unveil her guest appearance in UberEats’ latest campaign. Speaking of onscreen cameos, SZA and the residents of Sesame Street teased her forthcoming debut on the beloved series. 

On the live entertainment front, Tank is gearing up for the R&B Money Tour. The 25-date run will feature special guests Keri Hilson and Carl Thomas. View the full schedule here.

But what new music dropped this week? This Fresh Finds Fridays column features releases from Rhyan Douglas, Asha Imuno, Halle Bailey, Elmiene, FLO, Jean Deaux, Luna Elle, and Lendryx. Check out this week’s roundup below. Don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to in the comment section below.

Halle Bailey – “In Your Hands”

Halle Bailey is always one for the theatrics, and that’s what makes her a brilliant actor. Her time on film sets hasn’t stopped with The Color Purple’s cinematic release. She is pouring that art form into another creative avenue. In her latest single, “In Your Hands,” she uses that grandiose delivery and exaggerated storytelling to serve as a validating reminder that her love is unbreakable.

“Our love is like the moonlight in the dark / No better feeling than your warm hand / You’re the only name I call out when it’s hard / ‘Cause, baby, only you know who I am / Whenever you’re down and suffering / I promise that I’ll be your only friend / ‘Cause I know that the demons come knockin’ / But we will never, ever let ’em in / Don’t let the world ruin it / ‘Cause you got one chance / All in your hands, in your hands,” sings Halle.

Given the recent expression of her family, it is safe to assume that parts of “In Your Hands” pay homage to her relationship with the rapper DDG. But given its layer complexities, it certainly could be taken as a devotional to the higher calling given that her Grammy-nominated debut single, “Angel,” was filled with biblical references. Halle has the voice for all genres, including classical, but there’s something about the grungy blends of rock and R&B on “In Your Hands” that makes her sound right at home. 

In a statement sent to ThisIsRnB, Halle spoke about the meaning behind the record. “It’s basically a message about fighting for a love that you know is an incredibly beautiful one-of-a-kind love,” she said. “But also a reminder to that special someone that your love has changed their life and is something they won’t experience in this lifetime again.”

Rhyan Douglas – Circles

Love isn’t linear. In fact, more often than not, it curves, turns, and bumps so much that it can become a deterrent for those who desire to embrace the emotion. On Rhyan Douglas’ album Circles, he is brutally honest about how hollow it can be to navigate that failed reality. 

Instead of seeking revenge or rushing to replicate the feeling with another, Rhyan sits in it. The Brampton, Ontario native thoroughly examines each step of grief. But the most emphasized stage across this project is depression. Everyone wants to be a certified lover boy or girl. However, few tried and true hopeless romantics wear it as a badge of honor. Instead, it is a long-suffering curse due to the pain it tends to inflict. 

There are a ton of production credits throughout Circles. Usually, that can be seen as a professional distraction. With that many creative ears and how much input it does feel like a fight to have one particular ethos heard over another. However, as heard in how frazzled the project sounds it feels intentional. In the realm of picking the pieces of your life, that season is orientating and Circles’ range of eclectic production elements drives home the point of the project’s conflicting feelings.  

As the message seeps into its listeners consciousness, you’re pulled into a purgatory-like environment existing far beyond the current time frame. That’s what heartbreak does to you. Rhyan forcibly transposes that lack of control onto the listener all with chilling melodies and the gruff poetic lyrics. 

Circles’ standout tracks are “Found,” “In The Garden,” “Holy Child,” and “Last Page.”

Asha Imuno – Pins & Needles

For two years, Asha Imuno has been hard at work on his debut album. However, Pins And Needles is more like a lifelong venture for the Moreno Valley, California native. 

Across the project, Asha pushes the explorative envelope far beyond R&B. There is a concerted effort to weave in as many outside elements as possible. From jazz and electronic to poetry, Asha’s time in the lab with executive producer Zach Ezzy was well spent.

So often, music enthusiasts complain about not truly having any fresh takes in the R&B space. Due to the genre’s longevity that’s a valid point. However, Pins & Needles shatters the idea that something fresh and innovative can be taken from the simple concepts of emotional conflict, turmoil, and basic evolution in life.

Ezzy’s soft compositions and strategic arrangements to Ashe’s doubled-edged approach to each individual track, that tension is the thematic star. Each song’s immediate about-face clearly highlights Asha’s struggles internally and externally. He’s walked on eggshells in all of the areas of his life. Now, he has made it across the hot coals to deliver a remarkable album.

On Instagram, Asha wrote a touching note to celebrate the body of work’s release. “This album is years of my journey,” he outlined. “A world intimately crafted by 46 hands, amidst 1000s of hours of exploration with my closest friends in studios, parking lots, restaurants, and family homes. the bitter parts, the sugary parts, and everything in between woven into a 40-minute waveform.”

Pins & Needles’ standout tracks include “Honey” featuring Black Party, “Do U Wanna Be High?,” “Pushing Buttons,” “Hold A Good Thought,” and “Almost Home.” 

FLO – “Walk Like This”

Confidence comes from within. But who says a little reassurance from your boo thang doesn’t help? FLO is feeling themselves, and their budding fan base is all the more grateful for it. The more self-assured they are, the more music the public gets. 

The London ladies’ latest single, “Walk Like This,” is a testament to that. Throughout the track, the trio can’t help but brag about what they have to offer the world and how it shows up in every glide they take.

“There’s a reason I walk like this / My baby, he be lovin’ on this / When he do it, he be workin’ that sh*t / And every night he got me wantin’ more of it / There’s a reason I walk like this / Side to side with a sway in my hip / When he do it, he be workin’ that shit / And every night he got me wantin’ more of it,” sings the group across the chorus.

Produced by RELYT, Ashton Sellars, and MNEK, the stomping construction demands that you pay attention to every word they sing as it’s their women’s empowerment manifesto. 

“Walk Like This” is FLO’s first release since the group’s EP 3 Of Us.

Elmiene – “Crystal Tear”

You never know what you have until it’s gone. You must’ve heard that old cliche. Typically tits are used to validate our wrongdoings or shortcomings in a relationship. That’s the exact meaning behind Elmiene’s latest single, “Crystal Tear.”

Co-written with Lilian Caputo, the Oxford, England representative reflects on how it could be easier to grieve the loss of love than it is to actively participate in fostering it. “I imagined crystal clear / In my corner, I can visualize you here / Keep me up, set me down, right from wrong / Hold my ground / Set to see so many years / But in its splendor found the sight to set my fears / I ran out, let you down/ held on doubt, broke my crown,” sings Elmiene.

Produced by the highly sought-after D’Mile, “Crystal Tear” isn’t just another heavily ‘70s-inspired record in which he’s become known. Instead of relying on larger-than-life instrumental breaks, D’Mile dials the production back to a subtly framing to emphasize Elmiene’s majestic vocals. There are moments of gentle in-studio highlights (e.g., the focus on bells), but Elmiene’s voice is the star for the most part. Everything else is in a supporting role. D’Mile’s ability to understand that and craft a template to help foster that ambiance is what earns him his resume.

“Crystal Tears” is Elmiene’s follow-up to his live recording EP at RK Studios.

Jean Deaux – “Dreamin” 

If we’re being honest, sometimes when you say you’re down with an ex-lover it is a flat-out lie.  Checking on or constantly thinking of your ex can carry on for as long as your delusion spreads. Well, at least until you’ve reached your healing apex. 

On Jean Deaux’sDreamin,” listeners witness first-hand with being caught up in a relationship past. Although she has long since severed the connection, Jean hasn’t quite cut the last emotional string tying her to her past partner. So, she finds herself having flashes of wondering and curiosity to see if the nail has truly been hammered into the coffin.

“It was a love undone that was my old thing / I didn’t know better / No loss means no gain / I can’t get caught holding on or leave that door open / That was back then, I know this but sometimes I still do wonder,” sings Jean.

The busy production orchestrated by Malik Ninety Five is a metaphor for just how quickly her mind is racing. Just as Jean shifts back and forth from interested to single and ready to mingle, so does the song’s instrumentation.

But the record has a second purpose as the singer explained in the Instagram post. 

“This one is for my inner child that never stopped believing,” she wrote. “I hope y’alls never does either.”

“Dreamin” is Jean Deaux’s first solo release in 2024. 

Luna Elle – “Certainty of Life”

Love is a tricky emotion to navigate let alone identify. Who’s to say that what you’re feeling is in a facade? Or an over-exaggeration of reality. Luna Elle’s latest single “Certainty Of Life” shows that there could be a thin line between lust and love.

“I see you losing patience / All the emotions faded / I’m holding on to memory / Holding on to us / Feeling is infatuation / Unsure of what I want / Can’t describe this feeling / Emotional but I’m still healing,” sings Luna.

The Mississauga, Ontario native bravely identifies the emotional gray area.  As a society, you’re taught that everyone should pounce upon love at the first inkling of it. However, you aren’t provided with the proper tools to be able to nurture it upon first encounter. Luna is working through that anxiety on this record to avoid self-sabotaging. “Certainty Of Life” is produced by Larue Made It, one of the driving forces behind the singer’s 2023’s project Ms. Elle

“Certainty Of Life” is Luna Elle’s first release of the year.

Lendryx – “Halfway Open”

R&B music’s bread and butter is relationship woes, heartbreak, and sexual desire. Los Angeles-based singer Lendryx knows this. So, on his new single, “Halfway Open,” Lendryx takes a modern approach instead of sticking to the relationship structure of days past. 

As he sings, “I got plenty men / I got pretty girls calling / I got plenty bands / Watch it rain, watch it falling / Do you understand, it is you that I’m wanting? / ‘Nessa to my Kobe, yea with you I’d be ballin’ / I hope that you can take it how you give it / I hope that we can start before we’re finished,” the ultimate goal is a deep partnership.

Produced by Yogic Beats and JProof Pulls, “Halfway Open” shows a different side of the singer. Yes, he’s a vocalist, but Lendryx can also dapple in rap when necessary. The beautiful part of this track is its balance of masculine and feminine, both sonically and lyrically. 

Lendryx wants to fall in love and stay there. Reciprocity and being an active participant in your relationship are necessary to do that. 

“Halfway Open” is Lendryx’s first release of 2024.

*Cover photo credit: Dakdouk

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