Goapele – Break of Dawn [Review]

I’ve always been a fan of Goapele’s music. Her sweet understated and under-appreciated voice is welcome in a landscape of singers trying to prove that they can sing with all sorts of vocal tricks and overly suggestive lyrics. It’s been 6 years since her last album and I’m excited to hear what she has to offer this time around, my 2 copies are quite worn out.

1. Play
Produced by Eric Thunderbolt
The sonic vibe of this song and snap beat feel like she’s picking up right where she left off. I always feel like her music feels like a late 80′s video with women with big hair and lace fingerless gloves, and that’s not a diss. “Play” has a decidedly more sensual vibe as she sings,

I wanna know what you wanna do
what if I could say
there wasn’t any rules
I wanna play
play around
tellm e if you think
that you can get down
cause this is what I’m dying for
I mean this is what I’m dying to do

2. Tears On My Pillow
Produced by Bobby Ozuna
That’s what I get for even insinuating there is a box that she fits in. “Tears On My Pillow” is a very traditional soul/R&B sounding song. Complete with some strong keys drum work. Later on we even get what sounds like tambourine work and other sounds that build as the song marches on. This is definitely a dark liquor song as Goapele sings about a lost love that she saw slipping away. This song is painfully beautiful.

3. Undertow
Produced by Malay
Have you ever had that raw chemistry with someone that is just inexplicable and inescapable? This is the audio version of that song. Going back to a more sonic and familiar sound, Goapele speaks of being caught in that Undertow. That moment when “you know you should leave, but something won’t let you go.” I really have always enjoyed her simple excellence. She has the ability to effectively convey a moment and translate it to sound that almost makes you live the song.

4. Break of Dawn
Produced by Malay
Okay, this one does sound a bit dated. The usual mixes and devices on this one don’t really move me or the song forward. Even with that being the case, I’m sure you’ll find yourself bobbing your head along with the less than inspiring sounding track. At the end of the day, I think there is just a natural harmony to Goapele’s voice and this sound of music beyond just being familiar.

5. Hush
Produced by Kerry “Krucial” Brothers
Even before I read the liner notes for this album, something about this track felt familiar. Well, “Krucial” is “K” from Krucial Keys who produce a great portion of Alicia Keys music. I can hear her performing this song as well. The song is sung from a single mother to her child. I always appreciate these songs be they from male or female, there’s something really endearing about a parent singing to their child on professional albums. The music does have a melodic cadence and lullaby feel to it now that I think about it.

6. Money
Produced by Malay
Prince? No? Okay…well, she’s channeling the purple one on this song. The strong guitars, tambourines and overall funk-rock feel sound like something fresh out of his archives. As the title suggests, we talk about money, but moreso about how thin/unreliable money is when compared to love. This is a really romantic song parading as a dance friendly tune, daring you to sit still as it plays on.


7. Pieces
Produced by Dan Electric
This is another more traditional sounding R&B song and just like the other song, it sounds great. I’m noticing how much I enjoy her voice and how clean and clear she sings. There isn’t a lot of vocal acrobatics and unnecessary runs and I can appreciate that. Pieces is almost three and a half minutes long but because of the way it was structured and the way the track builds it feels short, almost like an interlude.

Then I fall into pieces
I’m here and you’ve left
fall into pieces
I’ll never see you again
Separate like a puzzle floating in space
so lost in this galaxy of life
so lost


8. Right Here
Produced by Drumma Boy
I vaguely recognize the drums, the melody, or something about this song…but I don’t like it. Along with some odd audio choices and sonic warbles all of the place, the song just has too much going on and the lovely sappiness of the lyrics can’t be enjoyed. I’m not a fan of this one at all and it’s 100% because of the busy track. Lyrically, I’ve got no issues with it.

9. Milk & Honey
Produced by Bedrock
Much like the last song, I don’t like the way the track is produced. It actually drowns her voice out and doesn’t seem to work with her in creating a moment. I think the guitar that comes in about halfway through does a great job in grounding the song and if we lost the sonic sirens, chords, and auto-tune, the song would sound better. But I’m no producer, just a guy who talks about music. So getting a lot less technical, the song just doesn’t really work and feels almost annoying to me.

10. Cupcake
This song is really cute. Cupcake pairs sweets and feelings to describe that “cupcake kind of love.” I’m all over the place with songs like this, some I hate, some I love, and a LOT fall in the middle…add this one to that middle section.

Bottom Line:
Break Of Dawn is an interesting album with a very varied sound. It ventures from familiar and comfortable to new and exciting to all-together confusing at times. This album is said to be more about her exploring a bit and her doing what feels good and as an artist, that’s what she should do. Fans will always find something they can enjoy on each album, this being no exception to that. This album may not be as cohesive as other projects, but it manages to be a good look at who Goapele is and where she is musically that may have not been as lucid on previous projects. Those familiar will appreciate the album because of it’s lyrical direction.



  1. I do enjoy this album being a fan of Goapele. There are many tracks like Cupcake, Milk & Honey for example that were out almost if even a year before the album dropping. I don’t know what to make of this (tight on music production b/c of money constraints), however I can’t blame a sista because of the economy and how the public interprets quality music. I wish there were more songs added to the album to level out the non-cohesive dynamic going on. But I’m happy to say that something has been produced that I can listen to. I love Undertow, Play, Tears on My Pillow.

  2. JMarguerite says:

    I STILL need to get this album, and by your review it makes me want to get it. I LOVED “Change It All” and I just knew “Break of Dawn” would be nice. Thanks for the great review.

  3. Clay Davis says:

    Any album I comment on here or a the Fro I make it a must to have listened to it try by track to atleast give an informed opinion on what I think. There are certain artists put forward an effort to put out complete albums that have a flow and chronicle an album from beginning to end and in my opinion Goapele is one of them. Good review too Saule.

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