By Nick Sligh
Miguel has cemented himself as one of the most talented figures in contemporary R&B. There are few artists in his genre that have as impressive of a discography, and not many with the same vocal and musical talent overall. Out of his four studio albums, there are no misses, and some are among the greatest modern R&B contributions. “Kaleidoscope Dream,” Miguel’s magnum opus, is one of the most masterful albums over the last decade, and an incredible showing of what makes Miguel so special. 2015 release “Wildheart” also added a fantastic compilation to Miguel’s discography, giving him a phenomenal back-to-back run with these two albums.
Although now a global superstar, the Art Dealer Chic series of EPs began when Miguel was only one studio album into his career and still building his prominence and acclaim. Ahead of the release of “Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 4,” Miguel surprised fans by finally getting volumes one through three of the ADC series onto streaming services. The first three volumes were each three-track compilations that included some of Miguel’s highest-quality work.
“Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 1,” released on Feb. 27, 2012, and began the sequence of projects with a special group of three tracks. “Adorn,” the leading song, became one of Miguel’s biggest hits of his early career (and an addition to the “Kaleidoscope Dream” tracklist), and remains one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard in R&B. The first volume closes with a song nearly as special as the intro, with the ethereal and impassioned “Gravity” creating, again, one of the better songs in all of modern R&B. Between “Adorn” and “Gravity,” the initial edition certainly had the most starpower out of the trio.
The second volume, released exactly a month after the first (Mar. 27, 2012), continued the impressive run with “Arch & Point,” “…All” and “Broads.” “Arch & Point,” the electric-guitar infused and highly sexual first track, ended up being one of the songs on the final “Kaleidoscope Dream” tracklist, and one of the better songs on the album at that. “…All” and “Broads” end the project on a lighter note, with “…All” focusing on personal aspirations and “Broads” taking an incredibly simplistic (literally the entire song is just a three-time repetition of the hook) and slightly comedic look at his affairs with women.
Volume 3 capped off the initial trio two months after the release of the first and a month after its predecessor (April 27, 2012). Most notably, this collection included “Ooh Ahh!,” a vintage overtly sexual but tremendously smooth song, as well as “Candles in the Sun,” a fantastic song and a political commentary that is as relevant today as it was at the time of its release nearly a decade ago.
Fast forward nine years later, and we have finally arrived at the continuation of the iconic series with the newest EP from the already legendary R&B singer. Miguel has been very quiet about this release, not revealing any information about the tracklist or any logistical elements of the project other than the title.
Miguel: “Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 4” (April 9, 2021)
The first of four tracks, “Funeral,” was already released as a single in 2019. The intro to the EP is a song that I have felt lukewarm about since its release. The dark themes and bass-heavy production aren’t necessarily bad, and they fit well with themes and deliveries, but it’s still far from my favorite song from Miguel.
“Triangle Love” is a wonderful showcase of Miguel’s vocals over smooth and simplistic but elegant production. The looped whistle in the instrumental behind the chorus, as well as the slight synth accents in the background of the production, help to make the atmosphere of the song so soothing and enjoyable. Usually, I wouldn’t like it when a song has a 90-second skit interwoven in it as the outro, but it is actually pretty funny and appropriate (in the sense of fit) and somehow adds to the song somewhat nicely.
“Thinking Out Loud” is another showcasing of Miguel’s vocals over relaxed production. There isn’t a lot going on here, but it is still not a bad addition in the tracklist. Not quite as captivating as the previous track, but it is still a strong addition and an effortlessly smooth delivery from Miguel.
The outro, “So I Lie,” is a nice closing effort. The production takes a bit of a twist, presenting an almost tropical feel and atmosphere. Not the most complex lyrically, the song still showcases a reflective performance from Miguel and the perfectly suited vocals for the great instrumental. The culminating track wraps things together nicely for the short but sweet project.
Obviously, this EP isn’t going to be nearly as fleshed out, cohesive and conceptual as Miguel’s studio album work. Despite that, he was able to produce a quality collection of tracks and some of the better R&B music that has been released so far this year. Particularly with “Triangle Love” and “So I Lie,” Miguel proves that he hasn’t lost a step in his ability to make great music. The ever-strong vocals are obviously present, and the production selections were pretty pleasant. Overall, this is an enjoyable compilation that just continues to build my excitement for Miguel’s next full-length project and all of the music that he hopefully has in store for the future. The consistency that I have come to appreciate from Miguel delivers again, and delivers a refreshing addition to the 2021 music scene in R&B.
Favorite Songs: “Triangle Love,” “So I Lie”
Album Score: 76/100
Check out this Spotify playlist and like it to follow along with some of some of my favorite songs of 2021 as the year progresses!