Creating something hot and fresh with material that has a familiar rhythm or melody to it is no simple feat, but when you’ve got a voice like Lisa G. Allen does, it’s a little easier than it is for the common pop vocalist. Allen’s deft management of harmony is what makes her new single “Big Momma” and its EP full of remixes so accessible to the casual listener, and although hers is an old school style that some would argue has less appeal than a more experimental look, the soul her music produces is honestly too compelling for the serious audiophile to take issue with cosmetic details. This has been a great year for the indie scene, and players like this one are contributing shades of a new identity in underground R&B that is beyond exciting for the longtime listener.

In the music video for “Big Momma,” Allen is joined by producer and co-composer Ronnue (the latter alongside John (Esq) Marvin Brown), and if you’ve listened to his music before I think you’re going to immediately recognize the connection between these two players. So much of the retro funk, soul, pop, and classic club music that influenced the persona Ronnue has made a name with is sewn into the stylization of this song as well, but there’s a key distinction in that “Big Momma” sways with a headier dose of hip-hop integrity than anything its producer has done before. For this player, using words as an extension of the beat comes naturally, and she’s flexing a lot of muscle with her performance here.

I especially like that the lyrics in this track aren’t exaggerating swagger so much as they’re punctuating the groove and creating some additional traction for Allen on the backend where there would otherwise be none. She doesn’t even have to come at the chorus hard – she can elegantly draw together verses and use the bass as a focal point for her swing as opposed to the percussion exclusively, which puts her in some elite company for sure. All of the technique that she shows off in this single and its remixes gets me thinking about what she might be able to pop off in collaboration with another slow jam surgeon of the same persuasion as Ronnue, and I see a number of opportunities on the horizon for this player if she inclined to chase after them.

Though I think she has a lot of depth that she isn’t using as much as she should be yet, “Big Momma” exhibits a lot of good in Lisa G. Allen that is going to get the praise of R&B fans around the underground this June, myself included. It’s been said before that retro anything is bound to come back into style if you give it enough time, but Allen successfully reminds us why this kind of music has never really been removed from pop culture entirely. It’s too infectious, too relatable, and honestly just too much fun to be let go.

Garth Thomas