Few things are more satisfying than listening to a gifted singer or rapper unleash their full range and power. However, I would argue that a pleasure that equals and maybe even occasionally surpasses that experience is listening to an artist not let it all out. Restraint, when wielded with intelligence and purpose, is mesmerizing. There is a tension between the possibility of explosive vocals and the absence of said vocals that can evoke waves of poignancy and romanticism. I find that a song dedicated to keeping it in the pocket can also unveil even more layers of an artist’s talents, particularly making room for velvety depth in the absence of ringing high notes, meticulously deliberate pacing in lieu of speedy runs or raps, and ethereal falsettos in the place of astonishing belts.
This mixtape, then, is my ode to restraint. Some of the included songs resolutely refuse to crescendo in any capacity, while others reach uniquely soft musical peaks, or dip into power so briefly that it only serves to further tease listeners. It’s worth mentioning that several of my current most-played songs, and a handful of my absolute all-time favorites, have found their way onto this list. I guess the yearning, sweetly melancholy tracks restraint can create are my cup of tea. For at least the length of this playlist, I hope you can find something beautiful in them too.