Back of My Mind (Apple Music Edition)
“Back of My Mind is accepting the vulnerability—being able to quiet the noise around me and listen to my own voice,” H.E.R. shares in the short film that accompanies her debut album. “It's the many layers that make me, me. It's all of the things that we're kind of afraid to share, afraid to say, afraid to do.” Within the opening minutes, on “We Made It,” that sentiment is clear, as the multi-hyphenate singer-songwriter drinks in the moment and the success that's taken her from nights she was uncertain to the Grammy stage and beyond. The percussion is crisp, and her guitar wails through a solo, and right away, we're engrossed in the lush, technical precision that has made H.E.R. one of the most gifted musicians of her generation.
Over the course of the album's 21 songs, she offers the many modes which make up H.E.R. Sultry slow jams run up against funky grooves while stripped-back ballads exist alongside trap beats—together, they span the modern history of R&B and position H.E.R. as both a student of the genre and a bellwether in her own right. “There were a lot of records on this album that I realized were like elevated versions of songs on my first projects, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, where sonically, it's vibey. It's like that alternative, kind of new R&B sound,” she says in the film. “But with live instrumentation, it just took it to another level. It's a celebration of all things that make R&B—the different aspects, the different sounds of R&B. R&B is the foundation of all music.”
Over the years, H.E.R.'s work within the genre has only grown more expansive. Where once she was an artist defined by her anonymity, she's now unafraid of her own light, a full-fledged star whose versatility is matched only by her musicality. Back of My Mind effectively captures her at, arguably, the most brilliant, confident, and freewheeling she's ever been. In an often overprogrammed world, it's the instrumentation that takes the project to another level—the space where she's finally able to fully express herself. “This album is representing this freedom of creativity that people are now accepting of me,” she says. “Music is my playground, and I can do whatever I want.”