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Chlöe - In Pieces Album Review

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

Chlöe bears her Soul but still leaves a lot to be Uncovered: An In Pieces Review.

Divinely perplexing pandemonium, a decadent slice of this rising superstar’s diverse musical influences and a strategically vulnerable addition to the canon of confessional R&B albums.

‘I find beauty in all of the cracks that show people I’ve been broken down before, because I’ve gotten up every time. I wear my heart as my armor. IN PIECES is for the ones who hold the people up around them while barely holding up themselves. IN PIECES is for the people who continue to get stabbed in the back, heart broken by the ones they thought they could trust, but STILL that doesn’t change their heart and how they love. IN PIECES is for the ones like me, who wear their outer shell so well that you’d have no idea what they are going through. I hope this project brings healing to those who listen, as it's been completely therapeutic for me and I can’t wait to share my heart with you, literally.’- Chlöe, Twitter.
Intro - Who are you when nobody’s watching?

To say that the journey to Chlöe’s debut solo album In Pieces (released March 31st via Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records) has been a difficult one would be akin to calling Megan Thee Stallion ‘The Warm Girl Coach’, Whitney Houston a decent vocalist and Usain Bolt an aight runner.

Trailed by one platinum selling single, the bombastically booty positive Have Mercy and a string of low performing follow-ups (Treat Me, Surprise and For The Night) that were eventually scrapped during the album’s final overhaul- former diehard fans morphed into harsh skeptics and the swarm around her upcoming breakout slowly dwindled to a quiet buzz.

Chlöe has been working on her debut since 2019 with sessions intensifying when her younger sister (and one half of their 5x Grammy-nominated duo Chloe X Halle) travelled to London to play Ariel in the upcoming The Little Mermaid movie.

‘I always have my sister’s support, and she will always have mine, no matter what we do together or individually.’- Chlöe, Billboard 2021.

Due to the pandemic, progress on her album was paused to virtually promote the duo’s critically acclaimed sophomore album (fourth overall release) Ungodly Hour. And as the world opened up again, the sisters’ solo ventures (and now solo Instagrams) picked up.

At first the social media streets were insatiable for Chlöe freely flaunting her enviable curves (Atlanta!!), skyrocketing her provocative photos, videos and song covers to popularity she’d never experienced before, but the internet can switch up at the scroll of a feed and like clockwork slut shaming ensued. Devoid of the nuance about the historical oversexualisation thrusted upon black women, the incessantly invasive mob were more invested in stifling her sexual exploration.

Perhaps an audience that was first introduced to her as a YouTube singing tween sensation with ‘little baby locs’ find the blooming flowers of her ‘Mama, look, I’m grown now’ era jarring. Perhaps they are struggling to heal the dissonance of their feelings of lust and loathing towards her or rather the self-loathing that comes with their feelings of lust towards her. Perhaps they are finding it difficult to reconcile the many polarisations that piece together the ‘scary and exciting journey’ that is Chlöe.

Her sexually charged music videos vs her bubbly, childlike personality. Her explicit and audacious lyrics vs the nerdy girl that loves science, her family, building Legos, God and making experimental beats on her MPC. Her sensitivity and sass.

The great news is: we don’t have to. Chlöe’s ethos with this album was to spotlight the multiplicity of her humanity and in the process of being whisked away by layered harmonies and outstanding vocal performances, guide us to accepting our own.

As a ‘big advocate for mental health’, she wanted this album to show how ‘We’re all works in progress and there’s no pressure to have all the answers’ – Chlöe, Rolling Stone.

What Does The Body Do? - In Pieces

This eclectic collection is a cohesive cornucopia of R&B, trap, dancehall, jazz, country, Afrobeats and mainstream Pop treading the familiar waters of love, lust, and loss through the eyes of our broken-hearted girl strutting defiantly into womanhood while trying to pick up the pieces of the fragmented in-between. Can she do it in 37 minutes and 52 seconds?

In Pieces starts off in a hauntingly ethereal flourish with Someone’s Calling (Chlöe), an innovative reimagining of the classic jazz standard Chloe (Song of the Swamp). This continues Chloe X Halle’s tradition of spellbindingly evocative album openers with complicated harmonies to match. It flows nicely into the album’s first single Pray It Away that juxtaposes the sacred and secular, the pure and profane with choir vocals against the gimmicky repetition of the phrase ‘f*** n****’ and wrestling between praying the hurt away and choosing violence. This goes into the electrifying dance track Body Do that continues the album’s motif of juxtaposing elements. Despite the playful production courtesy of her partnership with 2300, the lyrics present Chlöe settling for a situationship stumbling on a crumbling foundation. ‘You know I can’t trust you/As far as I can throw you/But I’ma trust what that body do’.

I Don’t Mind is an effortlessly smooth Afrobeats inflected number that would have greatly benefitted from the inclusion of an African artist like Wizkid or Burna Boy. Worried is a self-assured kiss off anthem with witty lyrics and great production.

While How Does It Feel hosts another vulnerable vocal performance by Miss Bailey if you nasty, the production is being held up by You’re Gonna Need Me by Dionne Warwick- the track it samples and the memory of Throwback by Usher featuring Jadakiss- the track it interpolates. Moreover, the decision to collaborate with an alleged colourist and documented domestic abuser unfortunately clips the wings of empowerment formed in Falling 4 U.

The outro of this miscalculated merger transitions flawlessly into album highlight Feel Me Cry with the singer belting over production that sounds like a hybrid of ‘80s funk and chillwave, featuring skittish drums towards the end that are reminiscent of her production on her duo’s underrated toxic love song Hazy. Chlöe’s deft vocal production informs her powerfully restrained performance, exploding only to emphasise the urgency of her ode, elevating sex from carnal, erotic pleasure to a transcendental communion of two souls. ‘When you’re holdin’ me tight/And you’re lovin’ me right/ My tears can’t hide/ I want you to feel me cry, baby/ An emotional high/ Comin’ down on my thighs/ I can’t hold it inside’.

The next track Make It Look Easy is another standout, exploring the jarring juxtaposition between Chlöe’s ‘outer shell’ the ultra-confident southern prodigy and performer and her private demons. It flawlessly complements iconic Chloe X Halle mental-health grooves Hello Friend, Hi Lo, Baptize, Down, Overwhelmed and Lonely.

It is ushered in by heart-breaking spoken word ‘No matter how many times I break/I put myself back together every damn time’ and deeply cinematic and experimental production by UpNorth, Chanelbigs and Chlöe. There are vague allusions to her strained relationship with her parents in the lyric ‘It’s f****ed up at home, I’m all my own’ and her anxiety in ‘Facin’ all my fears, I don’t wanna feel/ Please, don’t make me feel, way too much for me/ Look at me, I’m bleedin’ now, I’m cryin’ out’.

It’s true that we ‘don’t know all the bull**** that [she’s] been through’ and this song- while unquestionably incredible- makes minimal steps in increasing our understanding of Chlöe’s specific plight.

‘I don’t fault people for not liking my music, and I don’t love people more just because they love my music. It’s art, and whoever’s supposed to enjoy it and digest it in that moment, that’s who the music will go to.’- Chlöe, Rolling Stone

Looze U is disappointingly middling with certain offbeat embellishments presenting seeds of excellence that ultimately wither away. The stream of consciousness songwriting style she adopts creates a sense of rumination and has been executed superbly by her contemporaries SZA and Summer Walker. But because of cliché lyrics like ‘Boy, how you be so sweet and be this mean to me? / Baby, gone forever then come back home and cling to me’, ‘you tell me right and it’s left’, the song feels stale.

Told Ya featuring the legendary Missy Elliott is a puzzling urban trap joint and its bursting energy is a welcome departure from the string of contemplative midtempos. It is an acquired taste but it is one of the strongest cuts on the LP, so to everyone that trashed it when it was only a baby snippet back in August, Parkwood’s Princess won the war. HA!

The song is fittingly braggadocious with lyrics such as ‘Swallow your pride, how it tastin’ now?’, ‘Don’t you ever underestimate/Provin’ you wrong makes me horny, babe/ I’m the wrong one to be sleepin’ on’, ‘I still remember now when you told me that I wouldn’t make it/ Now I make millions and millions/ It’s crazy how all you talkin’ that s*** only fuelled me now’.

The next song was teased back in May along with non-album singles Surprise and For The Night. It is the unhealthy love song and country inflected Cheatback that homes a peculiar yet effective feature from Future. Given his reputation as the Toxic King, his inclusion, however jarring his croaky autotuned vocals are against the acoustic guitar, adds a clever layer of metacommentary to the already certifiable bop. Unsurprisingly, Chlöe turns in a ferocious vocal performance, truly embodying the rage of fictional and real-life black women scorned (Bernadine from Waiting To Exhale and Beyoncé in Lemonade come to mind). She indulges her darkest impulses but the weird vocal effects on her voice- especially in the rapid bridge- can be distracting. Still, the motif of juxtapositions persists with the personified male-female divide.

The vulnerable Heart On My Sleeve joins Worries, Baptize and Overwhelmed in the trifling ranks of her interludes that have no damn business being so freaking short.

‘Wear my heart on my sleeve, it’s a hundred degrees/ I can feel all of it’, ‘Yeah, I got a confession, I’m feelin’ under pressure/ Wish I had all the answers’.

Everything from the slight crack in her voice representing her heart breaking before her to the perfectly executed harmonised runs are top tier, and if given the room to breathe, this piece would have no problem becoming one of her greatest hits.

The title track In Pieces wraps up our album experience with quintessential stripped back piano-balladry and a sweet falsetto. An ode to those who have helped Chlöe in the worst of times like her sisters, brother and godmom, it is beautiful with lyrics such as ‘I would die to keep you in my veins/ I wanna be where you are’. However, it pales in comparison to the stunning ballads of Chloe X Halle (Fall, Cool People, Wonder What She Thinks Of Me) that home superior production, comparable vocal demonstrations and much more nuanced lyricism. Still, the contrast between the 1st and the 14th track on In Pieces is stark, placing Chlöe’s works in progress at the forefront.

Someone’s Calling (and her name is Chlöe)

Overall, this is an excellent inaugural album that solidifies Chlöe as a viable solo star and one of the most emotive singers out now. This set highlights her one in a million penchant for avant garde sonics. With Chlöe’s vocal and executive producing all over this album and her earning engineering credits on two of the tracks and songwriting credits on eleven, the sheer release of In Pieces is a feat all in its own.

In the future it would be great to see her make some heat with her contemporaries like Coco Jones, Normani, H.E.R., Flo Milli, Doja Cat, Doechii, Tinashe, Bree Runway, Josh Levi, Khalid, Lucky Daye and more. Also, collaborating with producers who work outside of R&B and Hip-Hop will help push future maximalist experimentations to even more extraordinary heights.

The Chloe of yesterday is not the Chlöe of tomorrow.

And that’s why I love tomorrow.


This 19 year old British Nigerian writer and poet is called Emoefeoghene Akpofure Imoyin-Omene but because you’re cool, you can call him Efe, Mr Omene if you’re feeling spicy.

From an early age Efe has had an affinity towards the artistry of writing. It gave him the chance to create alternative worlds when his sometimes felt cold and confusing. Writing became his space to unleash emotions too explosive to articulate.

This love intensified during the pandemic. While most were reeling, Efe was finding healing through writing his debut novel. Ese: The Misadventures of Moving Forward- a book he affectionately labels ‘YA Romance with socially conscious and comedic twists’. It beautifully chronicles the trials, tribulations and euphoria that comes at the worldbuilding adolescent stage through the eyes of an unconventional protagonist and their diverse found family. From his work with The National Centre for Writing in their Lit From The Inside programme at 17 and publishing a zine with them, working on his school’s English Blog, Podcast and Instagram, starting the 1st Black Student Forum in Wymondham College, editing and mentoring, and using his imagination to paint possibility, the sky is too limiting for this bright star.

Get ready world because Efe is.

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