The spirit of a singer rubbing shoulders with Marvin Gaye, mixed with the attitude of someone in the same circle as ScHoolboy Q. This combination is what you get when you press play on November, the debut album from SiR. The singer is signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, the same camp that has introduced us to the likes of Kendrick Lamar and SZA. Being part of such a star-studded roster could put pressure on artists that are trying to make their names known. But SiR doesn't show any signs of uneasiness, as he sings with a swagger that's on par with that of Bleek Gilliam in Mo' Better Blues.
If you need evidence, look no further than the album's first full track "That's Alright." In the song, SiR describes a relationship that is based on lust rather than love. He paints a picture of him and a woman "slow dancin' to Uncle Luke," which is something I would've never imagined before this song, but I'm sure it's fun. He goes on to say, "All her little friends can't stand me / 'Cause they know, I would trade her love for a Grammy," a statement that would surely flatter any woman. Somehow this comment doesn't stop the two from hooking up, so it's clear that the relationship described is casual (well, at least I hope so). Fittingly, SiR gives a vocal performance that is just as relaxed as his situationship. His singing relies more on his tone than any high notes that he hits, and at times his vocals float over the beat like a feather falling from a winter coat.
The tempo of November remains mellow as it moves to "Something Foreign," which features ScHoolboy Q, and "D'Evils." The former song has gloomy piano play as its backdrop, while the latter is a Reggae-tinged head-nodder. Yet SiR steers both tracks with a subtle command. He's in cruise control—only not in the sense of lackluster effort, but rather full comfort.
These opening tracks are marked by nonchalance, but SiR begins to offer more depth on "Something New." The song is a soothing duet with Etta Bond, on which SiR reflects, "And if everything else falls apart, I still have you / If I can't find my way back home, we'll make something new." These words, along with the rest of the song, capture the simultaneous excitement and uncertainty of falling for someone—or something—new. They are feelings that seem to clash, but they have to coexist in order to take a leap of faith.
SiR continues to offer introspection on "War." He uses combat as a metaphor for love, but you don't hear him speaking about dodging verbal grenades. The analogy expresses his determination, as he sings, "I'm ready to fall for you / I've been waiting too long / If I've gotta fight for us / Then I know I'm right where I needed to be all along." His sentiment is complemented by a smooth sound bed provided by MNDSGN. The beat meshes perfectly with SiR's signature, calm delivery. Meanwhile, each chorus brings a crescendo of feeling, as his vocal runs become as strong as his affection for the woman he's singing about.
The vulnerability shown on songs like "War" strikes a balance with the confidence of cuts like "That's Alright." Despite the shifts in SiR's perspective, the album flows well from start to finish, largely because of how he sings. His vocals can be as hazy as the incense that'll burn as people listen to November. But it's clear as day that TDE has found another special talent in SiR.
Notable Tracks: “D’Evils” | “Something New” | “Summer in November” | “War”