Judith Hill: Letters from a Black Widow Review

Three years after the release of her 2021 album Baby, I’m Hollywood!, Judith Hill is back with a powerful new 12-track collection that directly confronts a conspiracy theory that has haunted the Grammy Award-winning artist for years. Hill, who dazzled fans with her performance at last year’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, is slated to release Letters from a Black Widow via Regime Music Group on April 26.

From its title to many individual song lyrics, Letters from a Black Widow is about reclaiming the narrative, but it also strives to pay tribute to essential influences and embrace the music of now through celebrations of soul, funk and blues.

The album opens with “One of the Bad Ones,” a song that Hill has said was inspired by a psychedelic experience that left her spiraling. The music is slow and haunting, with sweeping vocals that Hill can take from 0 to 60 in a moment’s notice. “I’m waiting for the rising of the morning sun / This cannot be the person that I have become / But I cannot escape this mountain inside of me,” Hill sings. The song’s conclusion leaves the listener feeling like they’re on a precipice, aware that they’re about to dive into something deep but unsure how far the drop will take them. It’s on this note that the album kicks into gear.

A chugging rhythm sets in on “Flame,” an edgy song with lyrics that vow to keep going despite the “chaos” and the “pain.” Hill next leans into a funky beat on “My Whole Life Is in the Wrong Key,” a bouncy track with an irresistible beat that practically demands listeners dance along. “We Are the Power” similarly embraces a magnetizing rhythm beneath lyrics that call out attempts to silence people and rewrite history, with Hill singing, “Some of the pages in our history are turning up missing / I hear the crackle of the paper in the fire / Backspace backspace white page now the story’s rewritten.”

It’s on “Black Widow” that Hill grapples with the label she has fought for years after a TMZ article noted her musical collaborations with Prince and Michael Jackson before their deaths. While Hill addressed the personal toll that the fallout from that story had taken on her in a February 2021 Instagram post, in “Black Widow” she fights for control over the “scarlet letter on my back,” pleading with those who have thrown accusations her way before declaring in exasperation, “You want me to stay away? / Okay okay, have it your way I guess I am Black Widow.”

Hill’s album takes a soulful turn on “Touch,” a romantic song that allows her gorgeous voice to shine as an organ and gospel-style background vocals expand the sound. Though it’s full of sorrow, with lyrics that grasp memories while mourning a loss, it’s a beautifully performed song that echoes in the mind long after it ends.

Hill embraces personal influences on “Dame de la Lumière,” a song she described as a “love letter” to her mother and grandmother, as well as “an empowering tribute” to all women, upon its release as a single last month. The personal notes continue on “Let Me Be Your Mother,” a yearning song about motherhood and destiny. With its lighter tones and delicate rhythm, the song is musically and thematically in conversation with “Dame de la Lumière” and “You Got It Kid,” with the latter an upbeat reflection of childhood memories and the regrets that come with adulthood.

Hill goes on to embrace memorable rhythms on “Runaway Train” and “Downtown Boogie.” The first is a danceable, bluesy track that feels like pure joy as its lyrics embrace life on the road as a musician. “Downtown Boogie” meanwhile gives Hill space to play as a singer. She adjusts the speed of her lyrical delivery in time with the tune’s funky beat, her vocals acrobatic as she navigates the shifts with ease and fun.

The album closes out with “More Than Love,” a soulful song that ends on a hopeful note about trusting the ability to “make it through” after finding “so much more than love.” With this song, as in the 11 that precede it, Hill’s songwriting is thoughtful and compelling, with her lyrics making each song all the more powerful. As a whole, the album is expertly produced and performed, and rightfully spotlights Hill’s flawless vocals. It’s the kind of album that makes listeners excited to find out what will come next.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– My Whole Life Is in the Wrong Key
– Touch
– Runaway Train
– Downtown Boogie
– Runaway Train

The Big Hit

– Runaway Train

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Bulk Email Sender