When 22-year-old DC native Brent Faiyaz performed “Poison” off of his 2016 EP A.M. Paradox in January in front of a full crowd at L.A.’s Sofar Sounds, everyone knew he was going to be R&B’s future. This performance was on the heels of the December 2016 release of fellow DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) mate Goldlink’s now-platinum hit “Crew,” a banger in which Faiyaz croons on the chorus.
After mustering quite a bit of anticipation, Faiyaz released his meditative debut album “Sonder Son,” a project about growth, contemplation and reflection. Natural storytelling on this project paves roads that are made glass for listeners to walk on: something that is transparent and humbling. However, just like glass, Faiyaz shows small chips and cracks hidden underneath flashes of pure clarity.
From the beginning, Faiyaz takes his audience into a world of missed expectations, being broke and the fashioning into fame. In-and-Out relationships, not talking to his mother and questioning friendships plagues Faiyaz’s mind throughout this project. “So Far Gone / Fast Life Bluez” is a life story in itself, projecting years of reflection into five and a half minutes of splendor.
While Faiyaz has a lot to say about the important relationships of his life, the linearity of the project ultimately provides questioning his overall intent. On the finale “All I Want,” Faiyaz details his desire to be with his past lover, despite the emotional landscapes they have already covered.
The artistic choice to place this track at the end pitfalls the emotional buildup that preceded this, including the effervescent echoing of his mother’s voice two tracks before, which appears to be the most important thematic element of the project overall. However, this is not to say that the meaning of the entire project is to be forgotten, for every topic presented was impressively tackled by such a young man with limited experiences.
Sonically, a mix of soft and electronic percussion paired with crying guitars heightens his sensitivity in a way that has never been done before. The unique qualities of the meticulous production crafts wonderful narrative elements that are seductive and heart-bearing. “Needed” and “Gang Over Luv,” arguably the two best-produced songs on the project, work with old-school vibes and new-school sounds that are bluesy in nature.
Brent Faiyaz has much more of life to experience. Sonder Son is the first step of the full maturation he must endure. As the critical reception and feature requests file in, Faiyaz must only look upwards, for he is simply the future of R&B.