Reviews

Mahalia
Love & Compromise

(Atlantic)

8/10

Mahalia Burkmar’s debut album opens with a clip of the 1982 Eartha Kitt interview from which it takes its title. A chorus of vocals reverberate around the crackling audio as Kitt is asked whether she would be willing to compromise in a relationship. “Compromising for what? Compromising for what reason?”, she responds in disbelief as a kick drum punctures the mix. ‘Hide Out’ then becomes a cross-generational duet, where Kitt’s steadfast self-respect is echoed in Mahalia’s soulful diatribe against an unfaithful partner. “You don’t know what you had, I’m amazing”, the 21-year-old sings, giggling along with Kitt’s wild laughter.

Mahalia takes that unflappable energy and runs with it. Whether making a clean break (‘Do Not Disturb’, ‘Square 1’) or musing over an ex (‘I Wish I Missed My Ex’), she brushes off toxic relationships with an apathetic shrug. Even flirting with the possibility of new love (’Good Company’), Mahalia knows her worth: “If you can respect me I’ll let you stay”. Self-care is Love & Compromise’s bottom line.

Like a guided relaxation tape, the album’s pillow-soft instrumentals slip us into Mahalia’s euphoria. Heavy piano chords melt into warm, purring synths on ‘Regular People’ – a tender ode to being ordinary – as Mahalia sings about loving her body and skin. Hypnotic drones and subtle percussion score the romantic, carnal imagery of ‘Consistency’. The Burna Boy-featuring, Beenie Man-sampling ‘Simmer’ is a balmy dancehall bop that catches the last few rays of summer.

As confident a debut as you’re likely to hear, Love & Compromise reveals Mahalia as an honest, perceptive songwriter. With its refreshing message of self-love and lustrous, unfussy arrangements, the album radiates positivity. Going through a tough breakup? Need to fall in love with yourself again? Just had a really shit day? Mahalia has the cure.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.