About Time: Ethereal R&B with Occasional Missteps

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About Time is Sabrina Claudio’s first full-length release, coming on the heels of her Confidently Lost EP, which came out in March of this year. About Time largely sticks with the airy, sensual atmosphere Claudio established on her debut EP, and further cements her as a potential star in the alternative R&B scene.

This being said, About Time kicks off on a needlessly strange note. The opening track, which is more breathy talking than anything else, feels like something that I would read on a particularly terrible poetry-oriented Twitter account. Claudio’s weird whisper-talking is accented by a layered vocalization in the background and sparse guitar, giving the impression that this track is merely an experiment that went awry. I am frankly unsure as to why this intro was included, as it doesn’t add anything to the overall experience of album, and it made me want to stop listening before I even really started.

“Natural,” another subpar track, follows up the uncomfortable opening number and never really finds a groove. The chorus is not particularly memorable, with Claudio singing that she’s “quickly fallin' and it feels natural” while alternating between a harmonized vocal and that simple lyric. It isn’t catchy, and neither the melody nor the lyrics in the verses are anything other than passable. The instrumentation in the background is scant, with a simple drum beat, some spacey synths, and little else.

After these missteps, About Time becomes an album that is borderline special. “Everlasting Love” begins with a smooth, mournful piano progression that complements Claudio’s delicate vocals in the verse. The bridge is powerful, with Claudio breaking her affinity for soft singing and fully projecting her notes, mirroring the rise and fall of the instrumentation while she espouses her desire to “risk forever to make it right.” Also, the piano patch chosen on this track is perfect for the mood of the song.

“Unravel Me” further displays About Time’s fondness for minimal instrumentation, the moody synths, subtle drums, and simple guitar accents constructing a canvas for Claudio’s voice to soar over. The use of pitch-shifting in the chorus provides the listener with a nice change of pace from the more traditional vocals that make up a large portion of the album.

“We Have Time” is another standout track, elevating the tempo a bit on an album that is often subdued. The synths and drums are punchy, and Claudio’s multilayered chorus melody stretches her range while she sings about growth. “Wait” is a winner as well, bringing a jazzier sensibility (as well as a brass section!) to the album, Claudio successfully matching the dense chord changes with a descending vocal run on another much-needed upbeat track. Additionally, there is a remix of “Belong to You” by 6LACK included on this album that is simply outstanding, and definitely worthy of the listener’s attention.

There are a couple songs on this album that neither astound nor annoy, with “Wanna Know” and “Frozen” falling solidly into this category. But overall, this LP does a lot of things well. Claudio’s vocals are outstanding throughout, the production and choice of sounds fit the ethereal mood of the album, and Claudio’s lyrics are good enough to not get in the way of her voice. There are certainly a couple mediocre tracks, but About Time is, on the whole, an impressive debut from a young artist.

Rating: 7/10

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