In March 2020, Chicago singer-songwriter Dreamer Isioma released their breakthrough EP, Sensitive, whose slyly funky title track became a slow-burning hit—in a little under two years, it’s racked up nearly 70 million Spotify streams. Isioma is clearly a pop star in the making, and treats the history of recorded music like a grand buffet: they pick out the tastiest bits and assemble them into new dishes, such that you can still identify the ingredients even as you recognize that the combinations can only exist thanks to Isioma’s taste and chutzpah. On their new debut album, Goodnight Dreamer (AWAL Recordings/Dreamer Isioma), Isioma powers through the album’s wildly varied stylistic experimentation with ambition, confidence, and precision, which help bind together tracks that might not otherwise seem to belong on the same record. In other hands, the woozy, airy club-pop feel and reggaeton pulse of “Time Is Temporary” would’ve made for a jarring transition into “Crying in the Club,” which sounds like an R&B single melting into a hyperpop blur. Isioma makes it work, though, with talent and force of will. Their trust in their musical vision unifies the scattered moods and ideas of Goodnight Dreamer, and their silken singing and earnest expressiveness will make you a believer too.
Dreamer Isioma’s Goodnight Dreamer drops 2/23 and is available for pre-order on Bandcamp.