Dreamer Isioma – Princess Forever

RiYL: Luna Li, Amaria, Kari Faux, Hope Tala
Recommended tracks: “Gimme A Chance,” “Touch Your Soul,” “Kiss Me”

The progression in Dreamer Isioma’s past few works has been astounding so far. Experiencing a great launch in their career due to the bedroom pop sounds of the hit single “Sensitive,” Dreamer utilizes this album to display their range through a variety of genres — psychedelic rock, funk, R&B, pop, and Afrobeats — all used to explain a futuristic story of a character working against the oppressive government. The apocalyptic vibes of this piece serve to represent Dreamer’s inner frustrations of the world in a lyrically and musically talented spin, utilizing this scenery as a metaphor for their desire to invoke dramatic change in our world.

This latest piece embraced the artist’s femme-leaning aesthetics through its title of “Princess Forever,” drawing on their experiences as a transmasculine person. In an article written by i-D, Dreamer states that being a princess “just means being fabulous. Fabulous, at a certain high status, and being a good model for the people around you.” These words serve as a great representation of Dreamer’s attempts to visualize queer love through the lens of dreamy aesthetics.

“Ah” serves as a perfect opening to the sound of the album, representing the feel of a slow sunrise on a cool morning. The airy synth and slow drum beat gives the feeling that you’re looking up at the ceiling to feel the sun rays on your face as you are rising from bed, and Dreamer presents a similar theme in many other tracks at the start of the album. It’s an amazing contrast to have, considering the title of their prior album was “Goodnight Dreamer.” The artist attempts to represent a new start of their artistic journey through the entrance of this album, which I believe has built to the charm of Dreamer’s work.

“Why Pray to God” is one of the highlight tracks that display their visual imagery skills. Using lines like “Lightning streaks across the galaxy / Explains the thunder screams from the moon / But that’s no excuse for how you say my name” provides a dramatic calling out to their ex that extends beyond our current scientific reach. They attempt to emphasize these types of endless boundaries to represent the symbolic memories that gloss Dreamer’s pieces in the album. Other tracks attempt to call out to Dreamer’s appreciation for space through not only the titles, but also through the use of psychedelic rock effects like reverb and distortion.

“Love and Rage” and “Venus Versus Mars” are two sides of the same coin. Their titles imply that these strong emotions are in a ceaseless battle, but such impressions disappear as Dreamer’s lyrical abilities elucidate it as a passionate call for alliance. Utilizing Roman mythology to describe this range of emotions, Dreamer states the following: “Love’s the only war I’m a stranger to / Let’s fight together, boo / If I’m thе God of war, can you be my truce?” Though both tracks represent a similar theme, the pace of both are evidently different, with “Love and Rage” describing the initial sprint to Dreamer’s partner and “Venus Versus Mars” representing the final plea. It’s a progression that is relatable in the fight to establish and maintain a relationship due to the emotions being high throughout this struggle, but one’s energy toward resolving this issue is taking a staggering toll.

One pitfall of the album is that there are very few contrasting tracks, making some seem almost indiscernible to one another. This is especially true of the first half of the album; that is a primary reason for many of my favorite tracks for this album being in the later half. “Gimme a Chance” and “Touch Your Soul” have a shimmery glow, with the use of harps, congas, and chimes in a faster pace than prior tracks. This allowed me to stay more engaged with the instrumentals, which help build the yearning emotions Dreamer attempts to emphasize. Furthermore, the featured artist Merlyn Wood in “Touch Your Soul” also provides a flow that blends perfectly both with the beat and Dreamer’s soft voice. This track was a slow grow for me, but the excellent Afrobeats fusion percussion eventually propelled the piece forward on my tier list.

The primary criticism I have in the total album tracklist is the sequencing. Though the start of the album was perfect to provide a slow rise to the dreamy feel, it could benefit from mixing in the tracks from the second half with the first portion. This would allow for a rising and falling action that would tune in audience members to the full arrangement. I believe Dreamer Isioma’s prior piece Goodnight Dreamer perfectly represented the type of expectations I had set out for this album. Being a casual follower of many of Dreamer Isioma’s past works, Princess Forever is an experiment that I would like to see at greater depths. Perhaps this can be accomplished with a deluxe version or other future works to come, as many of the genres mixed into these tracks were executed in an enticing manner that I would be excited to see more of soon.