Chlöe Lands Right Where She Needs To On The Freeing ‘In Pieces’

In 2021, Chlöe flapped her wings and flew out of her nest. This “nest” is representative of more than one thing in her life – her Chloe x Halle duo with sister Halle Bailey and the sonic landscape that made up her previous records are among them. For the first half of that year at least, Chlöe was independent of both. Halle spent the first six months of 2021 in London filming The Little Mermaid live-action film. This marked the first time that the two were apart for such a long period of time. It was during this time that Chlöe also became more experimental with her music and more comfortable with showing off her body on social media. The latter resulted in extended and unfounded criticism from people at home, and it continued for the next two years. They took swipes at everything from her music, her posts, her performances, and more in this new and continuously building era of independence for the 24-year-old singer.

For the most part, Chlöe didn’t set out to correct her detractors, mainly because they rained in before long before she could finish a body of work to present to the world. It’s like criticizing a painter on their overall canvas after a few brushstrokes. Critics of her music often pointed to her success with Chloe x Halle forgetting that the duo is also comprised of Halle Bailey who had a hand in their success with projects like Ungodly Hour, so, of course, things were different. Though it may not be her intentional goal to prove her haters wrong, she does get a kick out of accomplishing it along with other goals. “I love proving people wrong,” she said in her Uproxx cover story in August 2022. “One day, I hope people can really get to see who I truly am as a human being as opposed to this facade of a person that they think I am.” At long last, the opportunity to do so arrived with her debut album In Pieces.

There are plenty of things that In Pieces highlights in favor of Chlöe’s artistry. Through its 14 songs, we see that underneath the feisty, captivating, and bubbly young woman, lies one that is still recovering from heartbreak. Unlike most albums centered on heartbreak, Chlöe doesn’t grant us a view into the days before the pains in love on In Pieces. Rather, impulsive reactions and thoughts are at center stage to start things off. “Pray It Away” marks the first fully-composed piece of music on the album and Chlöe shows the maturity to let karma sort itself out with help from the glorious echoes of a choir. That record spills into the uptempo and bouncy “Body Do” that, sans a slightly jarring intro, succeeds in reminding us of Chlöe’s versatility. There, she decides to use an unfaithful man for the one thing they’re good for in their final days together. In both cases, Chlöe acknowledges that the first step in heartbreak is to pick up the broken pieces, but what to do with them next is the journey that unwinds on In Pieces with emotive highs and lows, confrontations with self and others, and most importantly, growth.

In Pieces succeeds in many areas just from a musical standpoint. “I Don’t Mind” tantalizes with the flavor of fluttering guitar strings as Chlöe climbs the scale with the effortless agility of a ninja warrior. She swoops low in her warm-up towards a near-whisper hook that grazes the sky to pluck at the clouds. ”Feel Me Cry” is a well-executed double entendre that dazzles with Chlöe’s cries for the emotional connection that only the comfort of physical touch, especially in the sexual sense, can provide. That along with “Make It Look Easy” are by far the best all-around composed songs on the album. The latter record is layered in such an encapsulating way that it carries a meaning applicable to more than one subject. When she sings, “Can I be honest with you?” it’s a question directed at a significant other in her life and the general world that tried to break her down into pieces over the past couple of years. The openness and honesty in this record present a woman who’s learned to leave a bad situation and not indulge in the last good pieces of it as we see on “Body Do.” Lines like “Overthinkin’ always in my head / Hate bein’ alone, there’s nowhere to run / So, I’ll pretend that I’m all good instead,” prove that while the spotlight brightens what is great, it also manages to do the same for one’s imperfections.

On Chlöe’s debut, there’s a bit more to take away about the singer’s artistic direction than about the project’s musicality. On the latter front, the project is not as captivating as one may have hoped for a singer with such a fairly incomparable and undoubtedly commanding voice that has the ability to construct a story of growth and empowerment as we see on the album. Despite this, it appears that Chlöe’s foundational goal with In Pieces was to simply break from her detractors and prove that she can fly away from what once held her down. Chlöe did just that and landed right where she needed to. It’s exhibited through the compassionate and self-serving “Looze U,” the stern and hair-flipping “Told Ya” with Missy Elliott, and the juxtaposing “Cheatback” with music’s toxic king, Future. There’s room for improvement, and being that many listeners were once 24-year-olds looking to figure it all out, Chlöe will fair just fine. For her, there’s a better chance than not that she hits a bullseye in future go-arounds. For now with In Pieces, we and Chlöe can find resolve in knowing that the pieces are now whole again.

In Pieces is out now via Columbia Records and Parkwood Entertainment. You can stream it here.