H.E.R - "I Used To Know Her: Part 2" - Review
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
By now, the name, "H.E.R." should not even come as a surprise to most people. Since rebranding herself in 2016, the young, mysterious enigma has truly begun to take over the R&B genre by storm. Bringing back that real R&B sound that real music lovers have desperately longed for, H.E.R is back (AGAIN) with part 2 of her "I Used to Know H.E.R" EP. Released merely a week ago, Part 2 immediately picks up right where "I Used to Know H.E.R: The Prelude" left us wanting more, and delivers in more ways than one.
Containing 8 songs (that I literally love so much), H.E.R. peels back yet another layer to the shadowy charisma that is... H.E.R. Unlike The Prelude, which featured the likes of Bryson Tiller and DJ Scratch, the young singer offers us no features and places the spotlight directly on her and the angelic voice this time around.
The mood is instantly set with the acoustic, raw appeal of "Carried Away." The production is very minimal and simplistic yet still so funky, leaving the listener to really focus on H.E.R's heartwarming voice and passionate lyricism. In the record, H.E.R. is truly guarded. She's not expecting love or even the care of this lover, however the lover is starting to somewhat change her mindset. She warns him though, "Don't let it be for nothing before we get carried away." She's very unsure. She even sings, "Before we cross the line / I don't wanna take my chances if, this ain't it / If you're not sure, then let me go." The EP's next song continues with the raw feel of production as the guitar blazes before H.E.R's sultry, sensual voice blesses the track again. This time around the young crooner is doing a bit of reflecting. She sings to her lover telling him basically she has some issues within herself that is causing the disconnect between them, causing her to lash out on him and even put her problems on him. However, she cannot see him with anyone else but her. She's looking for peace within and while her lover is trying to help her find that serenity, he just can't help her. Her voice is as soft and smooth of that of the finest honey on the Earth and lyricism is so raw and real. It's really amazing when artists lay their truths all out on the table in their music.
"I'm Not OK" projects an even more vulnerable side of H.E.R as she essentially sings about her doubt, not being able to truly commit to trusting her lover and the doubt she has within herself. She just wants to be right under her lover, held tight, and loved beyond reproach. Her voice literally floats over this melodic, dreamy production. Listener's will feel as though they're floating on a cloud as her voice transports you to such a calm state of mind (even with her singing about situations that are the complete opposite of calm). "Take You There" brings the true femininity that is H.E.R as she sings about longing for the presence of her lover. Whatever they have fought about in the past is of no significance to her. She just wants him there with her... right now. She even sings, "Can I tell you something for what it's worth? With you Heaven is a place on Earth / And I will you take you there." Her passion explodes onto the canvas of this song. With lines such as "Fill me up, 'til my cup's overflowing" H.E.R. really delivers all the feels, emotions, and relatability that fans and music lovers alike will appreciate well after this project.
Appearing as the EP's shortest track, "Going (Interlude) may just be one of my absolute favorites on the project. I love a good interlude. The flow of the song grabs you immediately and then add H.E.R's seductive voice and it just does it for me completely. In this moment, H.E.R is expressing to her significant other that yes, while she has all of the love in the world for him, she is tunnel vision on the road to success, the road to growth, and the overall road to happiness. She is living her life, fulfilling her aspirations, which causes her to miss calls and lower her accessibility. She wants to live in the moment with him and be with him but she has to keep... going. "Hard Place" finds H.E.R reiterating that she wants to love this man, but she also has to put herself, happiness and heart first which pits her into this hard place she sings about. She fights with herself of whether she wants to fight for this or choose her heart.
The last two tracks, "Fate" and "Lord Is Coming" are truly two stand out favorites of the album. Here is where we really see the power of H.E.R's voice. "Fate" instantly transports me to my church roots and I love H.E.R so much for that! "I'm lost, is it really even my fault? I don't think that it's supposed to be hard, if it's really meant to be," she sings. The songstress finds herself doubting her relationship again, and is unsure if this guy is going to be hers or if this is really a waste of time. She sings to fate asking if this path belongs to her or to it. H.E.R's voice is as transparent, and intense as can be, the production is very cinematic and dramatic to add emphasis to her words, and add background vocals that mimic a choir and you're ready to just take it ALL the way to church.
"Lord Is Coming" takes notes from "Fate" and literally says, "Ok, let's take it up several notches." With hints of Lauryn Hill, H.E.R. delivers one of the most moving spoken word pieces I have ever heard. "Every day I pray for mankind," she begins. "We're all salves to a generation socialized and sickness is in the mind. We are habitual thinkers, substance abusers, and habitual drinkers." H.E.R. lets her mind pen down every emotion she feels and she holds not one thing back on this record. She speaks on the climate of our society and politics, feeling hopeless in today's world, and much more. She makes it clear she is not just some pretty face but she has a mind that is woke beyond means. She profoundly ends the piece stating, "And this is the devil's world but the Lord is coming for His people." During the second part of the song she switches back to the singer and even incorporates spirituality into her lyrics. She sings about Daniel in the lion's den, The Red Sea from the Old Testament of the Bible, and even the promise land. She literally ushers listeners into God's presence. Using her anointed voice, H.E.R truly blesses this track. The background vocals and eerie production help to tell the story even the more. Her ad-libs literally send me straight to Heaven and bless me each and every time I play this track. It most definitely is an unforgettable song.
Again, I Used To Know Her: Part 2 further exposes another surface of H.E.R. We see the spirituality that resides in her. We witness even more of her growth as she essentially uses the project as her own therapy session, airing out her problems, faults, and insecurities. And, we are blessed yet again by that unique, untouchable, one-of-a kind voice that makes her, H.E.R. I know I speak for many when I say, we cannot wait for the debut album! Another job well done.