There’s a timeless groove to the R&B of Yuna on her fourth forthcoming album Rouge, one that’s been two years in the making. It’s the most ambitious project the songwriter has ever taken on, and the first album she’s putting out as a fully realized woman. It’s also an LP that she worked harder than ever on, re-visiting songs, editing them down, adding new layers, enriching every single moment to make it the most luscious musical experience for her audience. Yuna makes soulful pop that contains the sultriness of Sade, the flair of Aaliyah, and the sweetness of Brandy. There are clear forebears upon her art, but her story is so singular that it’s hard to draw a line in the sand when it comes to Yuna’s lineage in the urban pop spectrum.
Lyrically, the album is rooted in her emotional experience. “The music that I write has to be something that I understand,” she says. “I wanna have songs that have humanity, that people can relate to. As I grow older, it’s important to write songs that are empowering.” Take the track “Likes” which is about her relationship with social media; how it’s left her feeling stuck between two worlds. “Who’s this Muslim kid? She’s Malaysian but she’s Americanized. I’m not Malaysian enough, I’m not American enough. What am I? Even though that situation is very unique other people can relate to it. It has a very empowering message. I’m still me.”