Many an artist has traveled the arc from the upper echelons of indie experimentation to pop success; leave it to the iconoclastic and infinitely imaginative Dawn Richard to go the other way.
The singer and songwriter’s career took off circa 2005 in the platinum-selling girl group Danity Kane, which was forged on MTV’s Making the Band and signed to Bad Boy Records. But then, after a toothsome dalliance with Italo disco and Ibiza glitz in the Diddy-branded duo Dirty Money, Richard struck out on a quest all her own. Across a string of captivating, protean solo releases, including the universally acclaimed Goldenheart, she refashioned herself as a high-concept yet heartfelt progressive soul artist whose intensely personal, fantasy-and-anime-tinted songs skipped nimbly among the R&B, Dance, and Indie charts.
Richard’s trajectory reached its triumphant logical conclusion in 2021, when Second Line: An Electro Revival—a cosmic tapestry of storytelling and song brought to earth by the bounce music, funk, and other sounds of her native New Orleans—was released by the venerable North Carolina indie label Merge Records. Richard once told Pitchfork, “When I first came into the music industry, I had this bold idea of what I wanted to say, and it was almost this Lancelot mentality: I charged ahead.” That was twenty years ago, but on her irrefutable new record, she shows no sign of slowing.