Dionne - Helium (2014)

Dionne
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Dionne Kirby, the Dallas native who sings under the stage name of Dionne, is an inspirational artist. That is a title that a lot of singers want to avoid, but Dionne embraces it on her new album Helium. Now whether inspirational is just a real nice way of saying preachy depends on what an artist brings to the table as a lyricist and storyteller.

Here’s the thing though. Helium has its share of uplifting anthems that encourage the listener to rise above or navigate around obstacles. However, two of the record’s best moments happen to come in the form of a couple of good old dance records. The first is the “So Good Shuffle,” which is a bouncy line dance tune that finds Dionne singing the directions “Up down/Up down/Shuffle step/Hop it back again/Oh yeah/Oohh it feels so good.”

Dionne Kirby, the Dallas native who sings under the stage name of Dionne, is an inspirational artist. That is a title that a lot of singers want to avoid, but Dionne embraces it on her new album Helium. Now whether inspirational is just a real nice way of saying preachy depends on what an artist brings to the table as a lyricist and storyteller.

Here’s the thing though. Helium has its share of uplifting anthems that encourage the listener to rise above or navigate around obstacles. However, two of the record’s best moments happen to come in the form of a couple of good old dance records. The first is the “So Good Shuffle,” which is a bouncy line dance tune that finds Dionne singing the directions “Up down/Up down/Shuffle step/Hop it back again/Oh yeah/Oohh it feels so good.”

She follows that up with deep thumping bass of “Boomerang,” a throwback jam that is a funky, cautionary tale about the how karma returns evil back to the address of the evil doer. So Dionne finds a way to insert a message into what is basically a dance tune. It works because the bass and heavy arrangement makes feet tap.

The mid-tempo “Allergies” uses the sneezes, watery eyes and other symptoms of an allergic reaction to highlight the toxicity that some people bring into our lives. Dionne sings that avoiding these toxic people is the best remedy. “Insecurity made my eyes swell/Rage made it hard to breathe/Dying inside trying to make you smile/Distance is the remedy.”

Some of more obvious inspirational tunes also capture the listener’s attention. Dionne uses the image of a fish or mermaid moving through the water to encourage people to look for different ways to confront and overcome challenges on “Swim Around.” theme of “Swim Around,” while the funk and jazz fused “Love You” is a cry for people to love and embrace themselves in a world where self-loathing is often used as a marketing tool.

“Fully” is a song that honors anyone that can be viewed as an inspirational figure. This pays homage to those people who patiently endure our imperfections and guide us to be the best versions of ourselves. That person can be a parent, a teacher, a significant other or “Fully” can describe the transformative role the God plays in our lives. “Fully” is the tune that best represents Helium’s virtues. Dionne is lyricist at heart who is at her best when using her observational and storytelling skills to craft inspirational tells that navigate the boundary between the spiritual and secular. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes 

 
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