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Xavier Omär/ if You Feel/ RCA Records
Release date: 10.23.20
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Xavier Omär Announces Upcoming Album if You Feel – Out October 23 via RCA RecordsRead More
Xavier Omär Releases “So Much More” Out Now Through RCA RecordsRead More
For Xavier Omär, R&B music is defined by deep expression. Musically, the genre is able to contain just about anything; with its roots in church music and the blues, it’s possible to trace a direct line from R&B to rock and roll and pop, not to mention hip-hop—that is, the biggest genres across the decades. Electronic and dance music both borrow liberally from R&B, and R&B production has often returned the compliment. When you’re talking about R&B, more often than not you’re talking about emotion.
Omär began recording his latest album, 'if You Feel,' in February of this year, on the heels of an early first-anniversary celebration with his wife. That milestone set the tone for Omär's most engrossing and honest project yet, eleven songs that explore romantic love and self-love in equal measure. This music lives up to the calling of R&B.
“I critique myself pretty hard,” Omär admits, and considered this his best work to date. “On multiple songs I really have a conversation with myself about what I need and what I’m missing.” He turned 30 during the recording of 'if You Feel,' another milestone that gave him the perspective necessary to appraise himself so bluntly and boldly. This is a deep record about marriage and personal growth, anchored by Omär’s clear tenor and his gift with vocal arrangements that celebrate the aspects of gospel threaded throughout soul music.
Omär grew up immersed in church music. His father served in the Air Force, which resulted in the family moving often, and in each new city he worked as a minister of music at the church the family joined. In addition to the power and truth of the gospel choir, Omär found inspiration in ‘90s hip-hop and R&B. He cites TLC, Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey, 112, Brandy and Dru Hill as formative acts that made him understand what the genre is capable of.
But Omär doesn’t make throwback music. He’ll sample a past gem, as he does on “Tell Me,” but he’s always pursuing a new sonic frontier. 'if You Feel' opens with “Find Me,” a propulsive, four-on-the-floor expression of confidence. It’s about trusting in love and in your partner, but it’s also a kind of flex to open the album in such a surprising way. Omär is perhaps best known for ballads like “Blind Man”—over 58 Million streams—but that’s only one dimension of his art. “I wanted people to hear ‘Find Me’ first,” Omär says. “I'm 100% sure that no one expected me to start like that.”
Across his albums 'Hours Spent Loving You' (2016) and 'The Everlasting Wave' (2016), and the collaborative project with producer Sango, 'Moments Spent Loving You' (2019), Omär has established himself as one of the preeminent voices in R&B—listeners know to expect sincerity and warmth when they dim the lights and press play on his music. In that department, 'if You Feel' delivers with lead single “So Much More,” a heart-baring ode to Omär’s marriage—the video documents his relationships with his wife Christin in tender detail—you’ll be hearing it at weddings in no time.
“Surf,” another standout, is geared more toward post-nuptial bliss—wedding night vibes, that is. “It’s more TV-14,” Omär says with a laugh. Accompanied by Masego, it’s a slinky sex jam that makes the most of a cheeky ocean metaphor.
It’s a hallmark of the genre, the male R&B artist singing to female listeners, making them feel sexy and special and well attended to. Xavier Omär wants more than that though, and makes it a point to collaborate with female artists on record and behind the scenes too. Jae Stephens and Mereba both contribute features, and on the production side guitarist Melanie Faye worked on “Bon Iverre.”
“Male artists tend to keep our circles small and work with the people around us,” Omär says, meaning that opportunities are seldom extended to anyone outside of the homogenous crew. “We have to really focus on being intentional about working with women,” he says. For Omär, this means beginning creative conversations with one question: Who are the black women creatives he can work with? From video treatments to production, he’s trying to start his search for new collaborators with this energy.
The album concludes with his gentle Mereba collaboration, “Like I Feel.” Though the duet wasn’t recorded in person, they were able to achieve a level of chemistry that Omär says is new to him. “I've never had a moment like that before, where I’m singing with another artist together.” On the bridge, their voices melt into each other creating the sort of moment that R&B fans live for, where the emotion and craft of two artists bring out the best in each other. “Let me know if you feel like I feel,” he sings, and in that moment there’s no doubt about the beauty of two people joined together.
'if You Feel' is out on 10/23 via RCA Records.