by Savion Smith
The opening notes of WAYI’s debut EP “Love in Progress” float in with the same fresh feeling as the first winds of spring, which is fitting for the work’s late March release. The 25-year-old singer/songwriter lays her soul bare for listeners over five mellow, self-written tracks that depict the hills and valleys of her romantic life with a sound like a dream collaboration between Willow Smith and Kehlani.
The EP begins with “Insecure,” a single that allowed listeners their first taste of “Love in Progress” as early as February 20. The soft horns welcome the listener into the album, preparing them to be wrapped in WAYI’s warm vocals. The Belgian-Congolese artist wastes no time in weaving her lyrics into James Lowland’s arrangements with the kind of strong vocal control usually found in musicians with more tracks under their belt. WAYI expresses the anxieties she feels in her relationship, allowing the listener to experience her troubles portrayed through a rapid style of delivery that brings to mind a conversation, despitei WAYI’s project being a solo one. “Why would you make me so insecure?” asks WAYI, in a tone that, combined with her expressed mistrust of her partner, illustrates to listeners that her love is not only one in progress but one rife with complications as well. With sentiments this strong expressed on the project’s first track, it seems as though WAYI hopes that she and her partner can move past the hardships currently obstructing the path to a healthy relationship.
WAYI follows “Insecure” with “Rather Hear You Lie,” in which she trades the uncertainty she introduced on the last track with the scathing confidence of someone who has learned that they were being deceived. “Tell me I’m beautiful,” WAYI sings, “I’d rather hear you lie.” The strings accompanied by the track’s simple, prominent drums and pulsing bass enter with an aggression that initially contrasts with WAYI’s own soft vocals. Once the listener is introduced to her biting lyrics, the instrumental’s attitude becomes slightly muted and the song comes together in a pleasing collection of themes that leaves the listener with an impression that the assurance displayed is in fact so scathing because of the pain it is laced with. The adversity that hindered the progress of WAYI’s relationship has not been overcome; in fact, it has only increased due to the deceit of her partner.
“Temporary” takes a slight turn in both sound and content. The song’s plucky bass is the most conspicuous part of the instrumental, and WAYI sews her voice around the sound skillfully. Despite the themes of acceptance seemingly apparent in the chorus (“We do not get to keep, Everything is temporary/We all love someday, we all lose someday), WAYI disapproves of her prior partner’s current person of interest. In this track, WAYI reflects on the end of a relationship and decides that she is discontent with the sequence of events. She feels that the relationship that she had with her past lover was the best that either of them will achieve. The verses contrast with the song’s chorus in a way that makes it seem as though WAYI is trying to convince herself that the relationship was bound to end, regardless of its quality. Still, WAYI is unwilling to give in; “Karma might be up to something, but I’m quitting till I’m winning.” By the EP’s third track, it may become apparent to the listener that WAYI’s love may be in progress for the entirety of the project. This is not a problem and is, in fact, indicative of healthy relationships as a whole: they are works in progress that require upkeep and revision fit for each participating party in order to remain in good condition.
“Fallin’ For You,” on the other hand, depicts the beginnings of a new relationship. WAYI serenades the listener with her desires, foremost of which is a romance out of a movie with a lover she had not seen coming. Of the songs on this R&B album, “Fallin’ For You” sounds the most like a pop song. This is not to say it is worse than the others or that it doesn’t fit the EP’s theme: rather, the track adds a refreshing and jovial sound to the project that was not present on the preceding songs. In contrast to the jealousy and sorrow, one might feel in the face of unrequited love, this track gives off the impression that WAYI is simply content to no longer feel the pain present on songs before this one. Despite this song seemingly signaling the start of an all new relationship, the progress of WAYI’s love has not halted. Instead, her love takes on a new form as it molds to accommodate a new partner, as made evident by the song’s tonal shift from the tracks that precede it.
WAYI finishes her debut EP with “Blame,” a dominant showcase of her vocal skill. In this final track, WAYI utilizes her extraordinary vocal agency to paint a visual of an ended relationship that she believes can be salvaged. She first suggests that she and her partner blame the relationship’s hardships on jealousy and begin to work out a way in which the romance can be saved. WAYI’s desire for a mended relationship is made plain to listeners by the passion with which she belts the song’s chorus. For the last lines of the song, WAYI suggests that she and her partner blame the relationship’s trials “on the usual”, implying that whatever troubles the couple face now they have faced before; WAYI believes they can move past these troubles, just as they did before.
WAYI’s debut EP is a 17-minute long personal trip through the relatable love life of a young woman, complete with all the joy and pain that accompanies love in its contradictory nature. In other words, WAYI is able to skillfully encapsulate the only true constant trait of love in her five tracks: that it is ever-changing and dynamic. The R&B project is a strong first appearance for the artist, and a warning shot to any other up-and-coming artists of this era; debut with your best or you won’t hold a candle to her passion, hard work, and ability.
Check out “Love in Progress” by WAYI on your platform of choice.
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