Omar Apollo: review of Ivory – a mixture of restless pop | pop and rock

DAlthough he is only 24 years old, singer-songwriter Omar Apollo has a remarkably mature voice. He meandered effortlessly through nonchalant tenor and crooning falsetto on the 2017 single You got me and has since gone through everything from guitar-driven funk to Latin folk and club-ready R&B. This genre leap, over the course of two EPs and the 2020 mixtape Apolloniusdrew comparisons with contemporary neo-soul artists Daniel Caesar and Miguel, without committing to any particular style.

On his first album Apollo finds its strength in the whispering intimacy of downtempo ballads. Highlights come in its sweetest moments, plaintive guitar strumming and stacked harmonies from Mr Neighbor to Invincible (featuring Caesar) – matching the duo’s remarkably similar vocals over fast, compressed drum production.

Upbeat numbers such as the Pharrell-produced Tamagotchi and chugging Talk, meanwhile, feel shoed in for radio playback, removing breathing space for Apollo’s vibrato-laden vocals and overloading the record at 16. tracks. Apollo’s aptitude for unexpected genres can yield fine results, such as on the haunting En El Olvido, but it can also speak for discordant restlessness. Once he has embraced the certainty of this sweetness, it will take on its full meaning.

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