Happy Valentine’s Day from Terrace Martin, Who Reworked Six of His Favorite Tracks by Four of his Favorite Soulstresses, for Her Thoughts, Dripping with Sax and Sex
Evan Dale // February 14, 2024
Everything Terrace Martin does feels special to some extent, even the little things. And his latest, Her Thoughts, fits the bill, albeit in a way entirely unexpected. It’s a little thing – a little EP – coming in at just over 20 minutes across six tracks. But those six are covers – six tributes – to six of his favorite songs by four of his favorite artists – all women: SZA, Coco Jones, H.E.R. and Snoh Aalegra. Snooze, ICU, Whoa, Damage, Kill Bill, and I Hate U. If you’re reading this, you likely know those tracks, so I’m not going to spell out for you which cut comes from which artists respectively. And if you don’t think you know them, just listen, because you’ll quickly realize you’ve heard them all before, and that they’ve likely soundtracked some kind of romance, real or imagined, in your own life.
Terrace Martin’s take on Her Thoughts, isn’t only an incredibly well-timed release of reworked Valentine’s anthems; it’s not only an homage to some of the modern soulscape’s most celebrated women as we inch closer to an International Women’s Day that too often boils over with shallow attempts at honoring half the planet’s population; it also grants a glimpse into how an artist – or in this case, a compositional genius – looks at, and listens to music as a consumer, before reworking it with his own style and method.
Terrace Martin is the first to know that there’s no improving upon what are six of the most celebrated R&B and Neo-Soul cornerstones of the last half-decade. But there is real value in bringing his lens into focus – and his sax into tune – to make them his own. The smooth jazz of the late 80’s and early 90’s may be dead, but letting the Crenshaw composer rip R&B renditions is as reminiscent as we’re going to get in 2024. And that fact alone shines a further light on R&B, on Neo-Soul, on jazz, and on their confluence. Here, all exist interlaced with one another.
If there’s a particular standout on the project, it’s only because Terrace Martin’s rework of H.E.R.’s 2020 Damage is less about his focus on the saxophone and its lineage to easily listening jazz artistry – with which the original was already brimming – and moves instead in the opposite direction. With his affinity for the psychedelic voicebox, and with the harpist, Brandee Younger delicately lacing the track with strings tugged both literally and metaphorically, Terrace Martin brings layered life to a track that deserves another turn in the limelight.
For 20 minutes, Terrace Martin gracefully reimagines six truly important Neo-Soul and R&B anthems with his funk and jazz-oriented composition, paying homage, and saying thanks, to four of the soulstresses that inspire him most. It’s a lesson in reciprocity and true art that we’re perhaps lacking sometimes these days. But as with all things he touches, Her Thoughts are bound timeless and pure by Terrace Martin’s hands.