by Tirhakah Love (@GoonTherapy)
In her spirited return album, ImPossible (pronounced, I’m Possible), Divinity Roxx’s warm presence eases listeners into an uptempo groove. Roxx, former bassist and music director for Beyonce’s all-female touring band Suga Mama, debuts her second (following 2012’s Roxx Boxx Experience) release after a four-year run of live gigs with Bey all-powerful and her tireless music team. With ImPossible, Roxx settles the traditional rock riffs with smooth jazz sensibilities to color her proudly feminist perspective that is both utilitarian and vital. Handpicked for her dexterity, the first half of the album features scatter raps in tenor over power rock riffs, but the falling arc reflects a softer introspection more reminiscent of Roxx’s college professor and poet, June Jordan — whom she dedicates ImPossible’s first single “We Are.”
Last year music was marked by a swell of optimism with musicians like Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, Macklemore, Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Records. Roxx fits right within those ranks. “We Are” is a lovely call for unity in a period where racial and sexual violence and political divisions are more visible than ever. Like most anthems, “We Are” doesn’t delve into the specifics – “Are we all so afraid of what we don’t understand that we willing to shoot without cause?” – but it’s a nice hinge on which the album pivots.
Roxx has a great ear for jazz rhythms, her bass–jovial and welcoming. The bass licks are crisp on songs like “Stinger,” which features a bopping bridge. Not particularly lyrically complex, Roxx’s delivery is inspired and her melodies will keep audiences engaged. But Roxx sounds most comfortable in intimate settings. Her R&b disposition layers her trademark positivity with a quaint sexuality nestled into her conversational tone. On head nodding cuts like “Question” and “WhachaDoiNWhereUATWhoUWit” Roxx is backed by sensual talents Derrick Baskin and Daniel J. Watts who offer steezy rhymes and tasteful melodies.
In a departure from her previous work, Divinity Roxx opts for jazzy interludes and quiet, forthright spoken word breakdowns. Roxx can go from stimulating to spacey but her pitch remains controlled. While I do wish she was able to utilize the opportunities presented by dynamic crescendos on songs like “Break Down These Walls” and “Just When U Think,” to vary her vocal range; Roxx has a remarkable ability to sound completely honest. Her bass perks up in mid-conversation, her rhymes not too far behind. ImPossible is, ultimately, a family affair. Interpolations from her mother on “Miracle” and her nephew on “Just When U Think,” remind the audience that all this positive energy is a result of love. Divinity Roxx musical connective tissue is part personal introspection part political statement but each form is infused with a love and urgency that surges ImPossible delightfully forward.
Check out Divinity Roxx’s new album ImPossible here.