Heaux Tales
Heaux Tales , RCA Records, 2021
Whew! It's been a minute since we refreshed with Refresh. The holidays—what else can I say? Here are four recent songs from local and national artists that might provide some solace in these frightening times.

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Heaux Tales, Jazmine Sullivan


I'm not gonna lie, I've mostly been listening to Jazmine Sullivan's new EP Heaux Tales ever since it dropped on January 8. Pitchfork gave it a "Best New Music" rating of 8.6, which feels low, but okay. Every "Tale" track is a spoken word interlude from different women that more or less teaches a lesson about sexual indulgence. The 32-minute project is comprehensive and relatable in its content, with Sullivan's vocals at their best. In addition to the obsess-worthy singles ("Pick Up Your Feelings" and "Lost One"), highlights include "On It," featuring the illustrious Ari Lennox, and good girl gone bad anthem "Girl Like Me," featuring H.E.R. Speaking of which, you shan't miss Jazmine's set on the Tiny Desk (Home) series that was to die for. Her setlist includes mostly new material from her new project, like "Bodies (Intro)," which sees her dreaming about being a housewife, as well as the excellent deeper cut "Let It Burn," and Sullivan is joined by H.E.R. at the end for their joint track from the project.


“Fantasy/Be Mine,” TYuS


Portland R&B singer Tyus Strickland (stylized TYuS) is never quiet for too long. In 2020, Tyus began dropping a new song (or remix) every month since June. Right before the peak of the holiday season, the 25-year-old artist dropped "Fantasy/Be Mine," and it's right in line with his usual sound... Do I smell an album on the way?


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“Good Days,” SZA


On Christmas day SZA gifted us with this calming, heavenly track "Good Days." SZA gets vulnerable and heavy and talks of almost breaking down throughout most of the song, but her positivity shines through in the overall vibe of the song. "Got me a war in my mind/Gotta let go of weight, can't keep what's holding me/Choose to watch/While the world break up and fall on me," she sings. "All the while, I'll await my armored fate with a smile/Still wanna try, still believe in (good days, good days on my mind)."


"Ride," Barra Brown feat. ePP


Last week, Portand-based producer Barra Brown released a new single, "Ride," featuring fellow Rip City rapper ePP, out on the questionably named Cavity Search Records. Unlike Barra Brown's more subdued songs like 2017's "Poem" or "Themes" from 2015's Dreaming Awake, this one's an upbeat, guitar-driven track for Brown's upcoming album LFT:RT. Apparently the collaboration between ePP and Barra Brown was because of the internet, and the two of them have never met in person. "I posted a video on Instagram of me playing drums over what is now RIDE," Brown is quoted in a press release. "I knew of ePP from the ERYST label.... I was very excited when ePP commented “I’d sound great on this.” I followed up, sent him the instrumental, and he most certainly sounds great on this." EPP's dynamically delivers his lyrics that cover his perspective the police brutality and subsequent ongoing Black Lives Matter protests that have been going on in Portland and the country as a whole.

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Miss the live concert-going experience? Then DO NOT MISS the new Mercury Music Series, featuring livestream performances by your fave Portland artists—debuting with the fantastic BLOSSOM! Coming at you January 28!