I’ve been meaning to write something about of one of my favorite EPs from 2016. The EP, Pho, is chill laid back R&B perfect for a kickback or night time drive. If you love R&B and Hip Hop, You need to take a listen.
Her lyrics are provocative and bold. The first track is a clever one about how and her lover just need “Yuengling” (beer) to do their thang. You also have songs like “Backseat” where she’s urging a lover to hit in the backseat of her car, and “Cold Outside” where she’s urging him (despite having a girl) because her roommates aren’t home. Her voice is soothing yet strong and makes all of this feel right though.
The production has a slight jazz influence with a lot of songs using a horn/trumpet arrangements or samples. On”Goat“which has a jazz production style, we hear Ari reminds her past lover that he’still the greatest and still on her mind. “Night Drive” also makes beautiful use of trumpets and horns but has maybe more of a ska/reggae feel to them instead.
“Night Drive“and “Backwoods” are two of my favorite. “Night Drive” is exactly about being on a night drive. In Ari’s case, She’s on night drive with someone she loves and is confessing this feeling. “Oh don’t keep your love from me… On that drive, Ooh you’re so fine, Purple in the sky, Cruising highway 85, thought I saw shooting star beaming in your haunting eyes.”she sings. “Backwoods” could literally be about smoking but more so metaphorically about someone who make her feel high. Yet, the feeling doesn’t stay. “Light me up like barbeque in Texas, Said baby let it fall right through me, I said me and my backwood, Ooh we be vibing so good, I roll him like sushi, such a beautiful tease, He gone when I count to three, I know you can’t stay…” she sings.
Overall the Pho is a very chill EP that you can put on while perhaps having a drink or smoke with a lover or some friends. The closest we get to a ballad or slow jam is with La La La La. It’s a beautiful song that captures the overwhelming feeling of being in love. It has a soft guitar melody and a sweet lullaby sounding production.
For me, Ari Lennox falls kind of into the style Erykah Badu and Lauren Hill. There’s also something about her flow and lyrics that at times reminds me of Jill Scott too. One thing’s for sure is that Ari Lennox has a bright future if she continues to deliver EPs like this. I hope to see her put out a full album and more collaborative songs with bigger artists.