By Nick Sligh
After a long string of quality singles, EPs and guest features, Joyce Wrice’s studio debut album has finally arrived.
The R&B singer from LA has built out an interesting and diverse list of collaborations, working over recent years with artists such as Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, The Free Nationals and Rejjie Snow. Her versatility has built up a wide array of experiences and styles across her discography, even though it’s still beginning.
In 2016, Wrice’s debut EP “Stay Around” was released, with solid results. The six-track compilation was very smooth, highlighting her potential to grow into a prominent R&B artist. Five years after her debut project, Wrice has come back with one of the most anticipated R&B releases so far this year. The feature list alone on the album is one of the most intriguing of the year so far, with guest spots coming from artists such as Freddie Gibbs, Lucky Daye, Westside Gunn, Masego and UMI.
Here are my track-by-track reactions and overall initial impressions of “Overgrown.”
Joyce Wrice: “Overgrown” (March 19, 2021)
The production already sounds like a great jump in quality and refinement from some of Wrice’s earlier production choices. The smooth, jazzy instrumental complements her vocals incredibly well and gives the album a very nice foundation.
2. “Falling In Love” ft. Lucky Daye
A big switch-up in the production style from the intro, “Falling In Love” gets an upbeat feel and a collaboration from one of the better R&B artists in his own right in Lucky Daye. Not quite as strong as the intro, but not a bad song at all.
3. “On One” ft. Freddie Gibbs
This one came out a few weeks ago. I can’t lie: Knowing that there would be a Freddie Gibbs feature definitely made me biased toward Wrice’s debut album. The production on this one is great, and Gibbs’ verse and energy combine incredible well with the strong performance from Wrice. This will definitely be a song that will be on repeat for the upcoming summer.
“Losing” keeps things at a quick pace, but definitely switches up the tone a little bit. With a more reflective and more somber tone, the fourth track again continues a trend of quality production selections with another really nice performance from Wrice.
At only 1:49, the fifth track provides a short but decent addition to the album. Probably the least captivating song so far, but with that being said, there still are not bad songs on this project at this point in the tracklist.
6. “Westside Gunn’s Interlude” ft. Westside Gunn & ESTA.
Westside Gunn provides an extremely vivid and explicit short love song. One of the more enjoyable and creative rappers in all of music, I love the fact that Westside Gunn continues to collaborate with Wrice. The production is actually really solid for an interlude, and it’s honestly just a funny and positive contribution to the album.
Another really solid production choice, “Addicted” provides a vintage feel and an incredibly smooth song. I have known for a while that Wrice’s vocals were great (and they have certainly been shining throughout), but the instrumentals across this album have just been really great and fitting.
8. “Kaytra’s Interlude” ft. Kaytranada
The second interlude in three tracks, this one doesn’t provide nearly the level of presence and character of the interlude prior to it, but plays its role well anyways.
9. “Must Be Nice” ft. Masego
A really smooth track and a nice appearance from Masego. Not one of the more standout tracks, but a solid one nevertheless.
10. “Hot Minute Interlude” ft. Devin Morrison & Mndsgn
I’m not sure why there is such a frequency of interludes from songs six through 10, but they still aren’t bad music and don’t feel like they are detracting from the album.
11. “Think About You”
Wrice is back to the consistent trend of strong vocals over enjoyable production with this one. A really smooth, soulful, R&B love song.
12. “So So Sick”
One of the lead singles that has been out for a while, it’s one of the less engaging songs, unfortunately. Again, with vocals that are this great, it is hard to make bad music, this one just isn’t one of my favorites.
13. “That’s On You – Japanese Remix” ft. UMI
Despite taking first-quarter Japanese, I don’t really understand about half of this one. However, the melodies and vocals are incredibly smooth and strong throughout, and the collaboration with a great up-and-coming R&B artist in Umi is certainly a valuable add.
The outro is a really nice, slow, reflective song over a piano instrumental that wraps the album up perfectly. A very appropriate closure to an impressive album.
Overall, I am really impressed with Wrice’s debut album. The vocals across were predictably fantastic, and the production selections lended a sense of nostalgia with a modern feel. Wrice’s range from the more vintage sounds of older R&B to the more contemporary sounds and twists really make the album strong from front to back. The feature selection was also very appropriate and really contributive. Freddie Gibbs, Masego, Westside Gunn and Lucky Daye (among others) all played a significant role in providing the album with a unique touch. I have a feeling that “Overgrown” will remain as one of the stronger R&B releases from this year.
Favorite Songs: “On One,” “Chandler,” “Addicted”
Album Score: 75/100
Check out this Spotify playlist and like it to follow along with some of some of my favorite songs of 2021 as the year progresses!