On March 5, 2021, Cortrell released his junior album “LSN1,” a mellow album filled with lyrics about love found, love lost, and, surprisingly enough, the calming sounds of nature.
Hailing from Paterson, New Jersey, the pop/R&B artist has wanted to be a singer since he bought his first CD: Brandy’s NSN. He says he did not start taking music seriously, however, until he was about 19 years old, in college, and had just gone through a tough breakup. Like so many great musicians, he found that writing songs and making music helped him express himself like nothing else ever had. To this day, writing a song is how he has learned to heal himself.
LSN1 starts off slow, with a calming acoustic guitar; then, Cortrell’s crooning voice comes in. “You don’t know the difference between a groupie or a fan,” he sings. The song is about wanting more than friendship; wanting it so badly, in fact, that he is willing to end the relationship if friendship is all he will get. The track ends with layers upon layers of Cortrell’s voice, humming and singing and mourning the end of whatever he and the subject of the song have together.
“Love (Interlude)” features Young Eskere and Illvminate. The sound of ocean waves on the shore is layered with Cortrell’s soft voice and a soothing synth. The interlude, although it is only 57 seconds long, is perfectly placed, and exceptionally composed. Featuring only a single sung verse, the song ends just as abruptly—and peacefully—as it began—with an echo that feels equally nostalgic and hopeful for the future.
The same synth reappears in the next track, “Love You Better,” featuring Illvminate. From the start, however, this song is more upbeat and danceable. This song is the first time drums appear in the album, which starts taking the album to a different place—one of confidence and coolness. “Don’t be afraid of the love coming towards you,” Cortrell sings, encouraging the subject of the song to leave behind their worries so that he can love her better.
Also featuring Illvminate comes “Secret.” As the title implies, the song is about keeping a relationship on the downlow. The deeper, slower bass and lower pitch add to the atmosphere and intrigue of the relationship, completing the story that Cortrell so masterfully tells with his lyrics. Over and over, he reassures the subject of the song that “no one will ever know,” and that she will be his best kept secret.
Kicking off with a thunderstorm, a piano makes its first appearance on the album with “Temporary Love” featuring Young Eskere. A stuttering kick drum and high-pitched backing vocals are the support for Cortrell’s voice in this short, yet sweet, song. Much like the love spoken of, the track is short, and leaves you wanting more. By now, we know that when it comes to love, Cortrell isn’t here to mess around. He wants something real, something beyond friendship, and something substantial. The brevity of the song is saying something, in its own way—Cortrell won’t waste time with temporary love, and he won’t waste time with a long song dedicated to it. On to the next thing.
The closing song of the album is also about a love gone wrong. Cortrell bemoans, “Gave me a piece of you / while I just gave you more / I don’t know why I went so hard for you… I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” Perhaps the track would be more aptly named “Mistakes,” as Cortrell regretfully realizes that this has happened “time and time again.”
“Mistake” is accompanied by a music video, in which Cortrell, bathed in a mournful—and almost vengeful—vibrant red light, glitches and reverses as he sings about mistakes made. He sings upside down in his bed, staring hauntingly at the camera; he sings in his mirror, frustrated and depressed; he walks outside, still washed in red lighting, and stares gloomily down the street. His pain was palpable through the song alone, and is even more so through the music video. The video ends with the camera backing out of Cortrell’s room, and the album ends with a haunting melody that makes you eager to put the album on repeat again.
What is remarkable about LSN1 is that it was written to someone. It is almost like we have gotten access to a series of letters that Cortrell has written to his love interest; each song about a different situation, yet each one comforting his love interest’s fears and reservations about their relationship, whether it be about moving on from just friends or people finding out about them.
From nature sounds to a reverberating bass, Cortrell’s junior album is an impressive piece, and has a song for every type of love. Designed to be put on repeat, don’t miss out on this love-filled hip-hop-infused R&B album.
Watch the full video for Cortrell's single "Mistake" below.
Also feel check Cortrell's latest release LSN1 Out Now on All Platforms