When India Shawn spoke on her debut album, BEFORE WE GO (DEEPER), she declared it to be “the complete album, the way it was created to be heard & felt.” As the followup to her 2021 EP, Before We Go—what our Executive Editor, Christine, dubbed “a short teaser with a wide reach indicative of what’s to come from India Shawn” in our list of the Best R&B Albums of 2021—I was eager to press play on the LP first, amid the outburst of new releases.
With those tracks woven into the grander picture of this work of art, it was something to sit with. It’s one of those albums that you have to intently listen to. “Get lost in it…” was the call to action Shawn urged from fans. It was a challenge to “find the hidden interlude” and “discover a new favorite.” Listening to D’Mile’s production and the added feature from Ambré on “CALI LOVE” were just added bonuses.
The irresistible melodies and reflective musings felt like someone trusting you with their deepest secrets, all to lo-fi sounds that don’t knock your chakras off alignment. It’s a journey of self-love and exploration as Shawn teaches those listening how we can better love ourselves before attempting to love anyone else in any way. As singer Kaye Fox states in the “INTRO,” we owe it to ourselves to honor one of our life’s purposes of loving ourselves. This isn’t a new concept, though.
Musiq Soulchild begged his partner to “teach me how to love. Show me the way to surrender my heart” on 2007’s “teach me,” and even poet Nayyirah Waheed wrote, “i am mine./before i am ever anyone else’s.”
Shawn merges this evergreen notion with her Los Angeles foundation and innate, nostalgic R&B sound.
The beautiful myriad of feels evoking from the sensual, balanced nature of “EXCHANGE” and the soothing string chords tying together “SAME FLOOR” to the sense of urgency in seeking a way out from being “CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE” to the upbeat conclusion on “JUST YOU” where it’s confirmed that your relationship with self is the most important bond you’ll ever have. And once you realize that, every relationship thereafter changes because you enter into them differently. So, before you go deeper, start with you; India Shawn said so and meant it.