Conya Doss – Through Rose Colored Glasses
It is easy to imagine Conya Doss reciting the words to her song “Black is Beautiful” – one of the tunes on her latest project, Through Rose Colored Glasses – to her students, or singing the song to her son. Doss’s roles as teacher and mother inform the way that she goes about making music. That means that fans of Doss don’t have to engage in cognitive dissonance when they play her music either because it’s bumping but profane or positive but blah.
Doss has been at this thing for nearly two decades and fans know that they will get soulful vocals, songs addressing how folks navigate through the ups and downs of relationships, a good duet and uplifting anthems like the aforementioned “Black is Beautiful,” and that is what Doss delivers on Through Rose Colored Glasses. Doss has an intimate and conversational vocal style that is particularly suited for work that derives its influence and feel from late 1970s and early 80s jazz infused soul music.
That is definitely the case with the lead single “Wishful Thinking.” Backed by a percussion, light touches on the keys and a swinging bass line, Doss asks whether her man is as committed to making the relationship work, or whether she is projecting her wishes and desires onto someone who is not nearly as into as she is. “Wishful Thinking” is classic Doss – something that could be an actual heart-to-heart conversation set to music.
She stays in that same lane on the soulful “Take It Away,” a track that features a funky bass line that finds Doss letting her man know that she’s been putting in work to make this thing work and she’s waiting for him to move this thing to the next level: “I’m always giving the best that I got/Baby won’t you tell me that you’re willing to reciprocate/I already had my turn, but I need you to.”
On “Long Haul,” Doss rejoices that the work a couple put in to get through the struggles paid off and now they are ready for a future together. The arrangement is sparse: bass, percussion and keyboard with flourishes of brass provide a foundation for Doss to express her confidence that this relationship has what it takes to endure. Thematically, “It Ain’t Easy,” a mid-tempo track that pairs Doss with Eric Roberson – another artist who is indie soul royalty – is in the same lane as “Long Haul” in that the track finds the pair expressing their desire to stay together despite all of the challenges they face.
“Black is Beautiful” is a love song to encourage young black boys and girls to endure in a world that constantly tells them that they are less than. There are plenty of people who wonder whether these anthems of self-affirmation are still needed. Doss’s work teaching in Cleveland classrooms, as well as her duties as a mother, tell her that songs like “Black is Beautiful” are more necessary than ever.
Through Rose Colored Glasses is Doss ninth album, and it finds her in the familiar place of making the kind of music plenty of people say that they want to hear. The irony is that many of those folks will complain about what they hear on the radio while Doss hides in plain sight. I have some advice for them: The ‘industry’ won’t make it easy for you to find what you want. You might have to do some work to find work. The ‘work,’ which involves typing Conya Doss into the Google machine or whichever streaming service you prefer, is not back breaking. Find Through Rose Colored Glasses, sit back and enjoy. Recommended.
By Howard Dukes