"Hello Happiness" is the twelfth studio album by American singer Chaka Khan, released on February 15, 2019 on the Island label. It is her first new material since 2007's Funk This.
Away from the ‘Diary of Adrian Mole’-esque pre-amble, ‘Hello Happiness’ marks Khan’s first album in twelve years. And allied with Dave Taylor’s (Switch, Major Lazer) presence on the dials, throws up some twisted, contemporary jams.
Expectedly, Khan’s power vocal is the fulcrum of the album, but it’s given a dexterity by the all-angles-attack of Taylor’s production. Where ‘Don’t Cha Know’ is given a bright, soulful energy that could’ve happily been lifted from Romare’s ‘Love Songs: Part Two’, Khan plays it softer on the more minimalist ‘Ladylike’, easing into acoustic live lounge R&B before drifting into the dubby sound-system of ‘Isn’t that Enough?’.
Apparently, she had no plans to make another original record, and at just seven tracks, ‘Hello Happiness’ could have felt like a tentative return. Instead, the less-is-more approach feels measured, and while not every track is a bona fide hitter, it’s still an album that delivers highlights with little filler.
The disco, R&B and funk tropes that have hallmarked her career are apparent and ever-present, but the chopping key changes, bongos, bass licks and broken beats of lead single – and standout track – ‘Like Sugar’ puts everything into an energetic orbit of Khan’s vocal in a stop/start, cut ‘n’ paste style that made Max Sedgley’s ‘Happy’ such a fun listen.
But when Khan amps up the sass and swagger on title-track ‘Hello Happiness’ and ‘Too Hot’, you get a fiery glimpse of the diva dynamic on which she’s built a career and why, even at 65, and 23 albums, she doesn’t sound a step out of place.
Reviewed by Reef Younis for loudandquiet.com.