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duendita - direct line to My Creator Music Album Reviews

The remarkable EP from the New York-based artist is a one-of-a-kind debut, filled with small details, warm soul, and great emotional depth.

duendita’s soul music speaks to the heart and spirit. Ordained by her connection to the ups and downs of the human experience, she is a gateway to the divine. With her achy, bass-coated tones, the New York-based singer builds altars that hold space for love, ancestral reverence, and a blessed existence for all of the black and brown people on earth. duendita’s remarkable debut direct line to My Creator—released for free on SoundCloud—is the body around which these principles orbit. Created over the span of two years, she wrote and produced the 10-track EP that captures her musings in just 30 minutes. It’s a style of concision recently adopted by rap contemporaries who’ve also opted for pithy offerings to the heart of the music. But over unhurried instrumentation, duendita wallows in her melodies and gives the project a lasting feel.

Born and raised in Queens, New York, the Afro-Latinx artist channels a sentimental blend of life experiences in her work. The vibrations of her identity, faith, and enduring familial lineage anchor the foundation of duendita’s art. Before releasing direct line to My Creator, she shared the single “pray”: a testimony to the pain and isolation that manifests in black and brown communities as a result of being underserved and denied access. As she dips into her deep and jazzy range, duendita spirals in a staccato rhythm while grappling with the emotions of a daunting reality. To soothe the heaviness, she spends the chorus pouring love into her people and reminds them of their place in her prayers.

But the first real song on the EP is a sobering track, “blue hands.” Written as a response to the 2016 killing of 23-year-old mother Korryn Gaines, duendita bellows a mournful six-line incantation for the protection of black girls and women from police violence. Although it begs for more time to sit with this dulcet lamentation, the song’s brevity allows its lyrics to be unpacked with each quick listen. Her breathy ad-libs mist over the track as if she’s gasping for air but her sadness turns optimistic as she warbles the lingering phrase, “I wish you a long, long, long black life.” Her sisters can disappear at the hands of cops with ease, but with “blue hands,” she brings them visibility and places the humanity of women at the forefront. This level of intention is present in all of duendita’s songwriting as she wades through a cascade of feelings.

At times, the ebb and flow of the EP can sound like one continuous mega-track, but that cohesiveness is a sign of duendita’s fluidity. She falls apart in the pursuit of romance, the blows of anxiety, and finds solace in her ever-present spirituality. It’s an emotional depth reminiscent of the soul legend Sade—one that’s honest and backed by music that’s equally as pure.

The album amounts to an enormous statement from an artist who values small, intimate details. In a few videos on her Instagram account, deundita sits with her microphone, keyboard, and drum machine and experiments with acoustic notes like the celestial ones she created for the EP. On the wistful ballad “September,” she plays cinematic chords that wail like singing bowls. She ends her first opus strong with the vulnerable cut “Bury Me” as her hums fade-out in harmony. direct line to My Creator leaves a margin for imperfection and its sometimes patchy vocals and odd notes are symbols of truth. In duendita’s openness about lovers, grief, and racial oppression, the singer starts the work of reclaiming her birthright of joy and healing. She makes it feel possible for the rest of us.

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