Hailing from Washington DC, singer-songwriter, hip-hop recording artist, and musician Travis Houze returns with one of his most personal releases to date, his sophomore 13-track album, Iridescent.
The photographer and creative director became fascinated with poetry and the hip-hop genre at a young age, leading him to his debut full-length conceptual album, Midnight Season, in 2021. Inspired by acts like Lupe Fiasco, A Tribe Called Quest, and Kendrick Lamar, Travis Houze is continuing the momentum with the release of his newest album, Iridescent.
Houze explains that at the beginning of creating the album, he received the news that he would be a father. Now, with the Iridescent, Travis Houze expresses how fatherhood taught him to see things from different angles, and he hopes listeners will find their own meaning and intent with each track.
The album opens with the introductory track, "Shine Tonight," a sweet and sultry r&b-inspired groove that drenches the speakers in passion and emotion. Travis Houze's smooth and velvety vocals make their way into the foreground alongside the jazzy and groovy production that leaves us tapping our toes. Travis Houze does a great job opening the album with such passion and charisma that leaves the listener wanting more.
On track number two, "Silence (feat. Ro Bettinelli)," Travis Houze jumps into a similar mid-tempo r&b/jazz groove that dances through the speaker with intimacy and passion. Ro Bettinelli's heavenly vocals bring this sonically delicious vibe that's matched with Travis Houze's cool, calm, and composed performance stylings. We can definitely hear some introspective and vocal similarities to Kendrick Lamar in this tune, making it all the more impactful.
Turning up the groove with track number three, "New Dawn (feat. Emily McNally)," this slow-burn r&b banger seeps through the speakers with chilling bass licks, soft piano melodies, tightly-knit background synths, and Travis Houze's whispery vocals. It's a refreshing song that invites listeners to join Travis Houze on his trek into the New Dawn alongside Emily McNally's lush vocals that dance and linger in the background with composure.
Pumping up the party is the album's fourth track, "It's Alright," stomping through the speakers with hefty and high-energy drum breaks alongside Travis Houze's energetic flow. While grooving to the unique sonic arrangements, Travis Houze displays all the love and passion in his exciting bars that flow past the listener like a river. This slight sonic nostalgia in this song takes us back to the prime time of classic r&b/hip-hop.
Onto a slow-burn of a single, "Network (feat. Devin White & SaVannah White)," this downtempo tune melts into the foreground with soothing drum beats and tender background sonics that add a groovy and lush texture. Devin White kicks off his bars with such confidence and charisma, while SaVannah White blesses us with her rhythmic bars to create a unique dynamic. Travis Houze grabs our attention near the outro to end the song with this alluring and haunting vibe that we truly can't get enough of.
Leaping into track number six, "Nightcap (feat. Deja)," we're blessed with another deep and groovy r&b tune that serenades us with the utmost passion and sensuality. Travis Houze invites us to fall back into the beats in this heavenly track, especially as Deja floods the speakers with her angelic vocals that sing a sweet and sultry message. This song is a true treat for the ears that we're sure any listener will adore.
Reaching the album's seventh track and mid-way point, "Tellin' (feat. Nikko Miles)," we drift into a bright and beaming r&b atmosphere while Travis Houze and Nikko Miles bless us with their soothing vocals and intriguing lyrics. The smooth piano melodies paired with the mid-tempo drums alongside Miles and Houze's lush vocals are a mix made in heaven, and we love the playful twists and turns both artists bless us with.
Ramping up the vibe is track number eight, "World In Your Eyes," we feel a similar sonic vibe as Kaytranada but with Travis Houze's authentic and sultry vocal delivery. It's one of the grooviest and feel-good songs on the album, and we're sure it will be a favorite for many listeners who feast their ears on this dynamic tune. It doesn't get much better than Travis Houze's smooth sailing vocals alongside modern funk/r&b groove.
Landing on track number nine, "Checkmate," Travis Houze throws us into this deeply reflective and soft listening experience with delicate drums and plucky guitars. His composed and relaxed vocal delivery brings listeners into this sonic dreamland while he keeps them hooked with engaging lyrics and his irresistible flow. There's no doubt that listeners will adore Travis Houze's captivating lyrical content and storytelling in this track.
Bringing back the vocal stylings of Emily McNally for track number ten, "Pray," Travis Houze blesses us with his glimmering and gleaming r&b instrumentals alongside his velvety vocals. McNally's soothing background vocals bring a dynamic back and forth to the song that's bound to keep any listener hooked on the palpable chemistry and passion. It's another slow groover that leaves you bopping your head to the mid-tempo beat.
Onto the eleventh track, "Foundation," we're met with the softest piano melodies that drift into a heavenly hip-hop/r&b beat with Travis Houze's soft and airy vocals. His lush whispers and vocal cadences bring such a deep and personal layer to the track that feels like getting to know Houze on a personal level. His introspective bars in this track are top-tier, and we're sure his audience will appreciate such an honest and intimate creation like this.
Hopping into track number twelve, (Know Your Way (feat. BIRDSY)," Travis Houze catapults us into a mesmerizing mix of modern r&b and old-school hip-hop drums while feeding our speakers with his emotional and personal bars. BIRDSY's vibrant vocals pick up the listener like a breath of fresh air, encouraging them to continue their journey and know their way. This sweet and inspirational bop might be our favorite listening experience on the album.
Reaching the album's thirteenth and outro track, "Good Job (Bonus Track)," this song features artists Nikko Miles and DOn't Change! As the carnival-esque hip-hop beat dances through the speakers, Travis Houze kicks off his bars while commanding our attention with composure and confidence. Nikko Miles and DOn't Change! jump into their verses with equal intensity and playfulness, keeping the listener engaged with each and every move.
It's about time you bless your ears with the sonic and lyrical treat they deserve through Travis Houze's dynamic sophomore album, Iridescent, now available on all digital streaming platforms.
Welcome back to BuzzMusic, Travis Houze. Congratulations on releasing your sophomore album, Iridescent. How does this album differ and stand out from your debut album, Midnight Season?
Thank you so much for having me again! It’s interesting because I see 'Iridescent' as the “spiritual successor” to my 2021 debut album. As I looked back on Midnight Season, I realized I spent most of the time asking myself, “Can I make an album?” and with this project, I asked myself, “Can I do that again and better?” While I still love the atmosphere established on Midnight Season, it was important for Iridescent to be a natural transition to the melodies and styles I listen to on a regular basis. I'm really big on cohesion and album sequencing, so I would listen to the songs hundreds of times in different orders. That way, I was able to see how closely the music played next to one another to make the best version of the album possible.
Were there any moments or experiences that inspired you to create the album Iridescent?
What helped me create the album Iridescent was taking some time to travel in the last year to familiar places and some new ones. Stepping into fatherhood played a lot into the album's themes, as well as becoming the leader and admitting there's no telling what the future holds, but I'll sure try to find that out somehow and someway. I went to Block Island in Rhode Island late last year and was blown away at how serene the location was and felt so detached from the city way I was used to growing up. Being able to sit on that beach and looking out into the horizon inspired the first single on the album "Silence."
What were your collaborations like for Iridescent? What was your experience working with so many talented artists?
It was important to include close musicians I've admired and worked with to return for this project (Nikko Miles, Deja, Devin White, Savannah White), but was willing to reach out to musicians with new and unique flavors. Ro Bettenelli is a singer from Argentina who I found out about shortly after recording the first album, and her style always stuck in the back of my mind for the future. Emily McNally comes from an indie pop-folk background which really brought a calm tone to the songs "New Dawn" and "Pray."
Do you have a favorite song from Iridescent? Which song are you the proudest of and why?
It honestly changes with each day. It's so hard for me to say I have a favorite song since I have about 2 currently. "Silence" is one I'm truly proud of because I felt like not only was it a song that organically came together but tapped something inside that I felt was really missing from my music last time. Another song I would say is "Tellin'." Nikko Miles has always been a close collaborator of mine, and of the eight songs we've done together over time, this one is my favorite for how it naturally came together with the great production from Kayro.
What do you want your audience to experience when hearing Iridescent? What do you hope they take away from the album?
I just want audiences to have a good time with this album. Something that's chill but picks up the energy when it needs to. I consider myself a Hip Hop artist that likes to play with the changes while never forgetting the roots of what made me get into Hip Hop in the first place. What I like about this album is that many of the songs can live in their own individual spaces while still feeling connected to a larger puzzle. As I sat here talking about it, I found out Pray was in a couple of Gospel-driven playlists which I never imagined the first time I wrote it. However, it made me glad to see that the songs can be accepted in places, and I'm excited to see how much further the songs and the whole album go from here.