Originally published for The Skinny.
Album title: Open
Artist: Khalid al Khajah
Label: Self Released
Release date: 7 Jan
Written, produced and recorded entirely in his living room, Edinburgh-based Khalid al Khajah’s debut EP Open is a wonderfully soulful collection of songs with an extra intimate feel.
‘I must have lost my mind on Melville Drive,’ Khajah gives a not-so-subtle nod to an Edinburgh street on Open’s second track Melville Drive, whilst recounting a messy break-up. The track sets the tone for the rest of the EP, blending dark, moody electro-R’n’B with neo-soul, funk and jazz tendencies.
Citing the likes of D’Angelo and Prince as key influences, it’s clear to hear these come into play. Open is a smooth, sensual funk/neo-soul track that wouldn’t be misplaced on a D’Angelo record and Through Waiting has Purple Rain-era Prince written all over it in the desperation of those echoey vocals and the sparseness of the production. But there are also hints of more modern influences on the electro-R’n’B, radio-ready track When the Quiet Comes, with its thumping drum samples, wobbly synths and distorted vocals.
Open is a seriously promising debut release from the 25-year-old Bahraini artist, and a breath of fresh air for a genre that could do with some revitalisation within the Scottish music scene.