I’m Your Empress Of
2020 – Pop / R&B
Lorely Rodriguez’s new album is more minimalist than its predecessors, however, it has great deep feelings alongside an important political message
In an interview with Vice magazine in September 2015, Lorely Rodriguez confessed how she got the name Empress Of: she was in a tarot session given by one of her friends and the first card that was pulled from the intriguing deck was the Empress, and in a chemically immediate way she thought: “It’s me, I am Empress. […] the Empress card is connected to fertility and mothering and strength. It’s kind of nice to have those feelings”. And just like the deck and the empress, Lorely has always been, somehow, unique. In 2012 she released a set of songs called Colorminutes, where each song represented a song and was one minute long. In her first album, Me, she addressed her difficulties living in the United States: “I hate the rats, I hate the rent […] I hate capitalism”. Now with her new album, I’m Your Empress Of, Lorely Rodriguez tells us a curious romance story filled with vital social issues, curious feelings and family memories.
I’m Your Empress Of, unlike her previous album, which counted with countless producers and composers and took more than two years to complete, was produced and written almost entirely by Rodriguez. She was having a hard time: she had just been through a relationship breakdown and her busy schedule made her reach a new level of mixed feelings, and I’m Your Empress Of was a sensible way for Lorely to put all her experiences out. She used minimalist lyrics – which sometimes went beyond the line and became silly – together with her mother’s lines, large repetitions and clever sounds to demonstrate all the feelings that were stuck in her throat. In this way, her third studio album is something straight to the point and without any complications, something true and sentimental, something about her.
In the first song, the title track of the album, Rodriguez repeatedly argues: “I’m your, I’m your Empress Of” with an angelic voice while various types of keyboards, pianos and synthesizers create this sound that mixes the old and the new. Soon after, her mother appears saying: “It was no easy, no es speak English / It was no easy, has to learn it […] So, this is Empress Of mom”. In an interview with Apple Music, Empress Of confessed that it was great to have his mother on the album: “My mom has so much to say, and it felt really good to have her on the album. At first, she was like, “I don ‘t know what to talk about.” So I told her, “Talk about being a woman. Talk about being an immigrant. Talk about being a mother. Talk about all those things that make you who you are.” And then she just went for it.”.
And Lorely Rodriguez’s mother plays a very important role throughout the album, she is no longer a simple charming touch that gives the album more intimacy, she becomes a feminist modernist poet. On the track “Void”, where Empress Of begins to report the beginning of the decay of their relationship and as her ex-boyfriend had no idea how toxic he was, his mother comments: “Do you want to become the woman / That no one will mistreat / “Woman” is a word / But you make yourself the woman you want to be”. And although the track has all this instrumental that seems to have been inspired by Brazilian samba, the strongest are the comments from Lorely’s mother, which despite being short, are striking. Already in “U Give It Up”, one of the most captivating tracks of the entire album due to her dancefloor spirit, her mother comments “Being a woman is not easy / Woman can be misinterpreted” while Empress Of sings about the guy who gave up on her.
Although some songs don’t have lyrics that are composed or complex, these are still very good songs. “Bit of Rain” appears talking about their relationship before the tragedy. The track has synthetic keyboards with electronic beats and remixed basses, in addition to a melodic chorus that blends well with the relation of the relationship with the natural phenomena. However, in “Love Is a Drug” she states: “I know the fall might’ve been worse / But now the rain is overflowin'”. This track, which talks about her abstinence from love, since it is a drug, has one of the most repetitive lyrics on the album, but it is not enough to hinder the experience. “Should’ve” repeats “Should’ve never let you close” more than 50 times, but still manages to make the track interesting with several synthetic vocal effects that did a great job of bringing a greater vocal range to the track. “Give Me Another Chance”, on the other hand, which talks about the moment of longing for an ex-boyfriend, can only stay upright thanks to the chorus’ mesmerizing vocal.
Right after that, we have a curious case: the next two tracks seem to be talking about the same thing but in a curious way. In “What’s the Point”, one of the strongest songs on the album, Rodriguez seems to talk about physical and psychological violence with an understatement alongside a very sad and heartfelt voice with synthesizers in the background and occasional electronic samples. Then, in “Maybe This Time”, she sings alongside a casual instrument: “Maybe this time you’ll feel me / Baby, you’ll hurt me / Your violent love ain’t a bluff / I don’t want your touch this time”. Both tracks speak the same thing but in a different way, almost as if one had been written months before the other. “Not the One” reminds me a little of something that Selena Gomez would do but it becomes a little nauseating and forgettable. “Hold Me Like Water” starts very well with all this self-reflective atmosphere, but the chorus seems a little out of step with the rest. Lastly, “Awful” has a little more worked lyrics and has really interesting instruments but ends up being a little weak to close the album.
I’m Your Empress Of impressed me more than I thought it would. The vast majority of the tracks are very good: in some we can have fun and dance around the house without concern, in others, we are concerned with the singer. Although some lyrics are quite repetitive, in most cases this did not negatively affect the tracks, which in addition to good lyrics, have very good instrumentals full of strong, precise and unique beats. At the end of it all, I’m Your Empress Of is full of songs that seem superficial, but in reality, are deep.