Ten-time Grammy nominated R&B star H.E.R. has been gifting us song after song as 2020 rages on. Although we technically do not have H.E.R.’s debut album yet (she classifies H.E.R. and I Used to Know Her as compilations of previous EPs), we may be getting closer.
From the gorgeous “Comfortable” and “Sometimes” to the major Grammy contender “I Can’t Breathe” and featured turns on songs from Jhené Aiko (“B.S.”) and Wizkid (“Smile”), H.E.R. has consistently delivered this year. Her latest single, “Damage,” is a sultry record where she warns her lover to not take her for granted because: 1) she can do some serious damage to him and 2) they can do some serious damage together. Built around a sample of Herb Alpert’s “Making Love In The Rain,” H.E.R.’s smoky lower register and flirtatious tone really anchor the song. H.E.R. is a gifted vocalist in the way that she can hit all the big notes and pull off intricate runs; more importantly, however, she regularly tells stories with her voice. With a slight rasp and an emphasis on restraint, “Damage” gets across the feel of a warning through H.E.R.’s vocal performance as well as the lyrics (“He ain’t the one, it’s just for pleasure/Either learn me or I’m a lesson, no, no”). In addition, Ant Clemons on backing vocals is the perfect final touch.
Cardiak (who recently scored placements on T.I.’s The L.I.B.R.A. and Drake’s VIEWS) handled the production on “Damage.” The song is right on the edge of being a true slow jam and it’s that lesson of restraint that really drives the song home. The sample does most of the heavy lifting, but in this case it’s not a bad thing. “Damage” is strong enough to be a proper lead single, so let’s hope with her SNL performance tomorrow night H.E.R. buckles down and finally gives us an album.