Alina Baraz blessed the quarantine music scene with the release of her long-awaited studio album debut two weeks early. Following her two EPs — “Urban Flora” (2015) and “The Color of You” (2018), “It Was Divine” properly showcases Baraz’s unmitigated talent, proving her skill despite her comparatively short discography. Backed by well-known featured artists, such as long-time collaborator Khalid and R&B star 6lack, Baraz takes the negative impacts of heartbreak and creates something beautiful, “making a home out of herself.”
Upon first listen, it is impossible to leave Baraz’s versatility unnoticed. "It Was Divine" melts the obscure feelings of being in a loving relationship — and ultimately losing it — into 16 cohesive tracks, establishing pivotal contrasts in tone and mindset, (“Gimme the Wheel,” “Say You Know”) which successfully represent the ups and downs that come with falling in love.
The richness in her vocals and the thoughtful production behind them create a vivid atmosphere, showing that she can clearly convey her story. Balancing bass-heavy escapes from reality (“Morocco,” “Off the Grid”) with acoustic ballads that face her hardships head-on (“To Me,” “Say You Know”), Baraz confirms to the listener that she can deliver gracefully regardless of the genre.
While forward progress is the motif of this LP, Alina Baraz is not afraid to recognize elements from her past, and even admits she misses them, while still looking ahead with strength. On the track “Frank,” she “looks back at herself” through the inclusion of lyrics from her first EP. Simultaneously, she revives an old stylistic choice, calling back to “Urban Flora” through the distorted voices in the background.
Urging her partner to “love her in the dark,” Baraz acknowledges and welcomes the uncertainty and complexities of their feelings for each other. This state is revisited during the album closer, “The Beginning,” where Alina longs to reconcile with her love and return to the simplicity of the past. She also reveals a deeper connection on this key track: I wanted it to feel like an endless loop, because that’s how life feels. You never really know where the story starts or finishes.
Alina Baraz’s studio album debut marks a robust launch, booming with Top 40 potential while beautifully maintaining authenticity. She leaves a lasting impression on listeners through this powerful introduction; hopefully they will keep her at the forefront of their minds when it comes to underrated up-and-coming artists. “It Was Divine” elegantly displays Baraz’s key to growth following loss and pursuing self-love: embrace your feelings, no matter how confusing or uncomfortable and respect their complexities, for that is where beauty lies.
Songs to consider: “Morocco,” “Frank,” “Endlessly,” “Gimme the Wheel,” “Night and Morning,” “Off the Grid,” “Take it Home”