The latest release from Santigold is a mixtape-style album, in collaboration with producer Dre Skulls. The tracks are mixed, complete with drops before each song. Unlike earlier records, it’s a straightforward 30-minute dancehall party. With a catchy single (“Run the Road”), I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions is a welcome surprise from the talented singer.
The dancehall vibes run deep, from Sister Nancy samples on “Wha’ You Feel Like” to the breezy first track, “Coo Coo Coo.” There’s a natural alchemy between Santigold and Dre Skulls that contributes to the organic quality of the album. Pulling influences from Afro-Caribbean rhythms, Santigold doesn’t stray too far from her typical sound, but pays a more direct tribute to classic reggae style this time around.
Santigold seems to be softening up a little with age. Less high-concept than previous projects, The Gold Fire Sessions feels informal and fun, like old friends playing around in the studio. This album is more straight-up dancehall, unabashedly rooted in something far from today’s indie scene. While Santigold has found success dabbling in electroclash (“Disparate Youth”) or punk/ska tropes on her self-titled debut, this album feels less focused on gaining mainstream attention.
Despite the easy vibe, lyrically Santigold explores topics more serious than booty-shaking. “Valley of the Dolls” is about playing the music industry game. She skewers the current state of xenophobia and hopelessness that is US politics in “Crashing Your Party,” a jam with a throbbing bassline. “I Don’t Want” is about sitting out the rat race and shrugging off the materialistic urges forced upon her. Though it came together hastily, The Gold Fire Sessions is far from shallow.
Santigold has the credentials to be a household name. But, with The Gold Fire Sessions, she makes a play for authenticity over accessibility. Her new sound may not have the “Bud Light Lime commercial” appeal of previous albums, but her thoughtful approach to a dancehall mixtape is just as refreshing.
Notable Tracks: “Crashing Your Party” | “Don’t Blame Me” | “Run the Road”