Dominique Fils-Aimé [FEES-em-AY] kicks off her JUNO award winning album “Stay Tuned!” with a celebration of motivational drums and encouraging words. Melodic humming links the opening track with the final song on her previous album, “Nameless.” This transition comments on how the history of music builds upon itself, in this case, from the blues inspired, “Nameless” to the jazz infused “Stay Tuned!” By conceptualizing her album trilogy this way, Dominique is figuratively placing herself within the historical and continuous transformation of African American music, mirroring her personal exploration as an artist. The album explores themes of liberation and progress, drawing from the revolutionary Jazz movement of the 1920s. It continuously reinvents itself with its personal and empowering lyrics backed by imaginative musical arrangements. The sound travels through various emotional identities, calling upon these free-form Jazz traditions, as well as pushing the boundaries of what is expected by a musical artist.
A defining characteristic of Dominique’s music is the presence of positive messaging. Even when the music uses darker tonal ranges, they are complimented by hopeful themes. This relationship is felt during the descent into “Where There Is Smoke”—a haunting drone, a lurking baseline thumping from below, a faint rattle and her lone voice asking “Do you smell smoke?” The opening of this track conjures a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, yet she eventually offers her listeners a welcome reprieve with her lyrics: “To be the light, to be the way.”
As the album progresses, her lyrical focus shifts to the complexities of relationships. Dominique shares her wisdom in “Big Man Do Cry”, a song that encourages masculine vulnerability. It flows with a catchy intensity, but does not get stuck in any one repetitive form. This song exemplifies one of her core values: “I need to remember that I am allowed to do what I want, sometimes we forget the we are allowed. We can do whatever we want. Really. Especially in art.” In this sense, “Stay Tuned!” is a groundbreaking album—pushing structural boundaries set in place for artists.
Dominique closes the album by turning inwards—celebrating the redemptive qualities of the soul. “Joy River” starts as a cry for help, like someone stranded in a desolate place, searching for a way through hard times, asking for nourishment. Then, the song drops with a rush of emotional relief, like the flood gates have opened and joy river is pouring into the forgotten wasteland. It sets up the last song where Dominique pledges her faithfulness to the soul, leaving us with an empowering message of self respect and self love.
released February 22, 2019