Dounia’s ‘Self-titled’ Album Is An Uneven Ride – Album Review

Dounia 'Self-titled' Album

At the tail end of 2023, Dounia returned her beautifully soothing vocals to the R&B scene on her self-titled album. While full-length albums rarely run as short as half an hour, the artist still hits many of the right notes without overstaying her welcome.

The album opens with the infectious groove of “My Twisted Perspective,” the perfect track to set the mood for things to come. Dounia repeatedly asks, “Why would I pheen (sic) for your attention,” and it comes off as nothing short of ironic.

After all, first impressions matter most, and if the album opener doesn’t wow right out of the gate, people simply stop listening. Providentially, this isn’t the case here.

Dounia 'Self-titled' Album

The bass hits hard when “False Perspective” enters the stage. The artist croons about how our reflection never truly shows who we are. Her haters, in this case ex-boyfriends, see her through an unclear mirror.

Just because someone can’t see us for who we are doesn’t mean that we match their scathed perspective.

“Angel Girl” is the first song on the album to truly feel like classic Dounia, reintroducing her smooth rapping and a more uptempo beat. While the other songs are good in their own right, “Angel Girl” captures the reason Dounia’s fans fell in love with her in the first place. Drawing its cues from Rich Girl Mood,”  the song rolls perfectly from beginning to end.

Don’t succumb to critque or projections. I don’t squeeze into limitations.

Unfortunately, “sPaCe (528hz)” is the first major miss on the album. The trippy ride is far from boring, but it never settles into an even flow like a majority of Dounia’s best-loved tracks. Yet at the same time, the song never feels like a natural progression for the artist’s music.

Dounia 'Self-titled' Album

As the final note hits, it’s a relief this stumble is buried between much better music.

“I Wanna Be Home” quickly rebuilds the lost momentum by connecting all the dots that led the listener here. All the right pieces of the earlier tracks combine, throwing out what didn’t work along the way and forming what could have been the perfect title track. The lyrics are a throwback to Alessia Cara’s  2015 hit, Here” but with more of a biting edge.

Out of the blue, “Self-Love Activation (528hz)” brings in the sound of the ocean, giving the track an ethereal feel. The calm created here subdues the listener into a state of total relaxation. It’s the perfect spa music but also feels a bit out of place.

If left as an outro, it feels like the song may have been more impactful. However, when placed towards the middle of the album the track becomes kind of forgettable.

While Dounia has never been completely radio-friendly, “Aladdin” does its best to forgo that feeling. If any track on the album is meant for the masses, this song is it. Leaving behind a majority of the R&B and jazz vibes, “Aladdin” is the closest thing the artist has released that resembles pop.

Dounia 'Self-titled' Album

Far from the best jam, at least it is passable in the world of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

“Coolest Girl in California” does little to improve the slump in the second half of the album. Although catchier than some of the other songs, Dounia fails to give us lyrics more creative than, “Submerge in clear water, stay in ’til I’m clear-headed.”

The only thing deep here may just be the shallow end of the pool.

The album comes to a close with “You’re Not the Only One,” a very focused piano ballad. A beautiful melody plays in the background as Dounia’s voice takes the front stage, guiding the fans through a beautiful narrative.

Although she doesn’t speak directly to the audience, it is hard not to take it personally when Dounia sings, “Don’t let anything break you. Let it be your breakthrough.”

Dounia’s fourth full-length album is reminiscent of the cassette era of music. The strongest tracks play out in the beginning — keeping the audience entertained enough to purchase the album before being let down by a majority of the later tracks.

When the artist hits her stride, Dounia’s music is in a category of her own, but when she strays too far from the formula, things go downhill fast. Yet it is hard to blame her for trying to branch out and gain new fans, after all, that is what musicians are supposed to do.

There is enough good here to hope for what is next from Dounia, but it also allows in sufficient fear that she might make a turn toward the wrong side of the tracks. Experimentation is fun, but please don’t blow out our eardrums in the process.

What is your favorite track from Dounia’s self-titled album?


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Self-proclaimed entertainment guru Charles E Henning fills his free time reading books, watching movies, and listening to music. While not always up on the latest trends, he is always willing to dissect the themes of pop culture.

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