Label: Atlantic Records
Released: 14th July 2023
“You thought I was finished,” Mahalia sings on the opening line of her latest album, ‘IRL’. Rest assured, she’s far from it. In fact, it feels like she is just getting started. Of course, her earlier albums were fired up and ferociously displayed her sheer talent, but on ‘IRL’, Mahalia comes into her own more than ever.
She takes absolutely no prisoners as she steps into a higher version of herself. The cheaters, the liars, the gas-lighters and everyone in between – no one stands a chance. Her straight-up, scathing yet cut-open lyricism invites you to transform from listener to confidant – hearing her every woe and simultaneously being lifted up alongside her, ‘IRL’ is no doubt an emotional journey, but it’s a pleasure to be a part of it with Mahalia.
Leaning into that early 2000s R&B sound that suits her style so much, ‘IRL’ is overflowing with powerful moments of joy, as on ‘In My Bag’, and even more incendiary moments of anger like ‘Cheat’. November is joyously sweet, silky vocals rising in a sincere serenade. ‘Isn’t It Strange’ is something of a self-callout, made all the more bearable by a sick backbeat and gorgeous vocals. It’s every side to Mahalia on show here, something that she embraces with open arms; ‘IRL’ finds stable ground to move forward on. Mahalia has settled in herself, and the result is a no-holds-barred mission statement of love and letting go.