For his fourth album as Blood Orange, Dev Hynes has taken a slightly more introspective turn – but has not compromised the impact of his music. Lyrically his insights are as profound as ever, and are made with greater power when the music is more restrained. Negro Swan is unflinching as it deals with marginalization, the feeling of being on the outside looking in, and worse still the lasting torment of bullying at school. Vocally he has never been so profound, and on tracks like ‘Dagenham Dream’ and ‘Orlando’ speaks from vivid personal experience. The music is a bit slower and more downbeat than previous album ‘Freetown Sound’, and the guests are less high profile names but equally well chosen. Patience is advised – this is an album you should definitely allow time and space to grow, so that it’s impact – both musical and lyrical – can be properly felt. After those first few plays the clarity of Hynes’ writing becomes clear, and the deep-seated emotion and issues are laid bare for all to experience and share. You sense it is a really important album for Hynes, and is another highly accomplished addition to his canon.

Ben Hogwood
5 out of 5

Blood Orange – Charcoal Baby (Official Video)