To record her meditative third album, Jhené Aiko retreated to the lush hills of Hawaii and surrounded herself with crystals, incense, and singing bowls. It was an experiment in self-discovery and the healing powers of sound: Every song on Chilombo, which is also the R&B singer’s last name, features the transcendental tones of the ancient bowls, which are said to balance chakras and soothe anxiety.
They seemed to have worked: For a project about heartbreak, these songs are impressively, and infectiously, zen. Lead singles “Triggered (freestyle)” and “None of Your Concern” (featuring Big Sean) wrap intense, defiant messages in chill lullaby beats, and “Mourning Doves,” an intimate confessional that uses wind instruments to mimic soft bird calls, toes a line between bedroom ballad and New Age hymnal. Aiko is so deep in her vibe that even her heavyweight guests—which include Nas, Ty Dolla $ign, Miguel, and Future—can’t lure her out of her peaceful, low-key center. Instead, they go to her. “Lightning & Thunder,” her dreamy duet with John Legend, is densely atmospheric and psychedelic, like a love song in a daydream.