Updated: Jan 26
Tacoma, WA artist Keys Open Doors, fresh off his reflective and infectious track Why You In LA gaining a million streams, has dropped a dreamy 6-song EP, Northwest Approval. The EP's soundscape is high-flying and tranquil, it sounds like watching a rainstorm while on the top of a high-rise building. The cover art does great justice to the auditory experience, a foggy tree-line with mountains and a pink sky punctuating the picture. With vocals about cannabis, unrequited feelings, and finding your peace in a dark world.
NW Approval opens the EP, always keeping you on your toes with its multiple beat switches, and commentary making it feel like the song is premiering on a radio show somewhere. The drums move shiftily while Keys keeps up with a breathless flow, as he raps in the song, "She got what I like, those squats workin' wonders, bread comin' to my hands and I'm over bein' under."
Far Gone has the mysterious, nocturnal vibe one might find in Toronto's Hip Hop scene. The lyrics center around losing emotional attachment, self-isolation, and running away from it all. You get so caught up in the mesmerizing effect of the song that you forget it's only 3:08. "Let's ride away, ride away lay low, the highway's my way to lay low."
Too Fly is more woozy, upbeat, more funk-infused. If Far Gone was a low moment, Too Fly is the self-empowered Keys Open Doors. Kokane hops on the song to provide the hook,
"Hold up bitch get off my bumper, cuz I'm too fly to have another, I don't do no soap opera drama, give it to me mama, want the whole enchilada." Another song to be played in dark nights when the only thing warming you is neon colored lights shining from every direction.
Toot's Song pays homage to Louis Jordan by echoing his immortal words: "Is you is, or is you ain't, my baby?" With an ethereal synth (or is it an organ?) that immediately gave me memories of listening to Solo by Frank Ocean for the first time. Shelby Swims brings a very touching verse that perfectly meshes with the soulful air of the beat.
Loot is next, it comes on much faster, the drums stand out the most initially.
"I'm really thinking someone's moving the goal, I'm really thinking someone's after my soul."
"It's like we sittin' in a circle duck ducking the goose, but when I get up from the floor I be chasin' the loot." A return to the spiritual, background vocals of wordless singing add to the atmosphere. A beat switch happens 2/3 of the way through the song, making way for a quick verse about self-medicating. The song ends with a voicemail from a friend while the beat plays.
The final song is 10 of pentacles. It opens with very forlorn electric keys playing. More singing, used to great, soulful effect. Great rhetorical questions are offered, "Why does peace come in so many pieces?" A bittersweet ambience is set and it refuses to leave you after the song ends.
Overall, this is a great conceptual project that springboards off the tone and skill established in his hit, Why You in LA and seeks to press onward and upward. Keys Open Doors has so much more to say, and he won't be fizzling out anytime soon.
Stream Northwest Approval on Spotify here.
Follow Keys Open Doors here to stay up to date with new releases.
Written by Max Olarinde, @mobeige1 on all social media.