If the name Blossom has somehow eluded you until now, it’s in your best interest to open up Spotify and immerse yourself in her captivating brand of R&B. Born in Trinidad and Tobago and brought up playing in her uncle’s steel drum band, the neo-soul singer has become a staple of Portland’s music scene over the last half-decade. Dynamic live performances and a strong catalog of singles and EPs have helped to establish her reputation in Portland—and beyond—and now with the impending release of her long-awaited debut album, Blossom is set to complete her takeover. Maybe comes out Thursday, May 30, via Portland indie label Eyrst. (The date also happens to be her golden birthday.)
On previous releases, Blossom (a.k.a. Keisha Blossom Chiddick) has toyed with a variety of genres, from the breezy reggae of “Black Magic Woman” to the disco-leaning “Loves Coming,” but Maybe is more unified in its sound, blending her disparate sonic influences into a whole that feels remarkably cohesive yet not afraid of experimentation. Her songs tend to be laid-back and soothing, but she isn’t afraid of the occasional dissonant jazz chord or glitchy noise texture (take, for instance, the eerie, slowed-down vocal sample that forms the basis of “Honey If You Hear”).
Blossom has even invented her own term to describe her music: “I call it neo-sensual,” she told Portland Monthly for last September’s fall fashion feature. “Because regardless of the topic, there’s always some sort of lust-filled factor in it just by delivery.” She’s right. Her songs do tend to revolve around themes of love and lust and their attendant complications, but even when they don’t—as on the standout single “Career Suicide”—there is always a sultriness to her low-key vocal delivery, a quality accentuated by the wavering drum rhythms that pulse underneath.
Blossom also told us about her obsession with Betty Rizzo, the hard-nosed badass from Grease. Clearly she wasn’t kidding, as the brazen leader of the Pink Ladies is the subject of a song on the new album. “I used to think I was a Sandy,” she said. “And then I realized I was a Rizzo.” Indeed, Maybe seems imbued with Rizzo’s spirit, both in its cool self-assuredness and in the lonely anxieties that lurk beneath the surface. “I can be your sugar baby,” she murmurs coyly before reversing course for the bridge: “Let the devil in / Lucifer sure can get down.”
“I wrote this project for my other lonely lovers,” she told us last year. But her dreamy crooning has the power to make us all feel a little less lonely.
6 p.m. Mon, June 10, The Armory, $15–35