Marsha Ambrosius Seamlessly Infuses Politics and Sexuality Into Classic-Sounding R&B


Marsha Ambrosius’s light touch is so refreshing in a world of increasingly heavy-handed communication. The singer, who was born in England and worked for years as one half of the neo-soul group Floetry, has a catalog full of slow-burning R&B. At times, her passion takes a matter-of-fact turn for the explicit, as it did on “69,” from her 2014 album, Friends & Lovers.

“The reason why I sing and even write so candidly about love, lust, sex is because it is,” she told Jezebel during a recent visit to our office. Ambrosius stopped by to talk about her upcoming third solo album, NYLA, due September 14. The set is named in part after her daughter, who was born in December 2016 and “brought this force out of me that I didn’t know existed,” she said.

NYLA has been preceded by a handful of recent singles, including “Old Times,” a vintage-sounding ballad whose ordinary domestic setup soon gives way to a police-shooting scene inspired by the likes of Trayvon Martin. The video, according to Ambrosius, is “one big what-if.”

“Right now, we’re living in a world where, you step outside your door there’s just no telling what could happen,” she explained, adding that NYLA is in many ways a response to a fraught atmosphere. “We’re in a constant state of trauma, having to hashtag-RIP people we don’t even know, and I think during the making of the album, the process made me musically conduct a sound that wants you to long for that old-school feeling again.”

Video Producer: Kayra Clouden

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