By JESSIE WEBER
Mid August, Sybrina Fulton gave an open and deeply insightful interview regarding both her son’s murder over three years ago and America’s continually strained racial divides. Dev Hynes, or Blood Orange, as most would recognize him, read through the transcript. Over this weekend, he released a new single, “Sandra’s Smile,” addressing the grief that still sits with the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and many, many others.
Hynes wrote most of the lyrics on a single page in a small notebook before adding ethereal background singers and a mournful saxophone, with his evolving looped beats making repeated cameos throughout. In his typical way, “Sandra’s Smile” flits from one sound to another, beginning soulfully before waxing jazzy with a tint of new wave. It ends with a wide-open space looping almost exactly back to the beat that it first greeted you with.
Don’t listen to this for a love song. Don’t click play for a song about Maseratis. This is a song about family, race, loss, inequality — and that stands out in a music world practically bedridden by the weight of so many lyrics about being rich and having sex and still being rich but no longer having sex. It’s not just powerful for its musical prowess, but also for the quiet victory it claims by refusing to be silent when many are calling out for an end to protest and a return to the “peace” that existed before. Listen to it even if you don’t like his sound, because chances are it will resonate with you. At the least, you’ll stand to learn something from it.