Fusing intimate, personal topics over soundscapes that weave between pop, R&B, soul, and electronic music is the specialty of newcomer Dolly Ave who released her debut album Sleep on May 7th. Having had a break-out hit with her 2020 collaboration on “Sunlight, Quiet, Flowers” with rapper Charlie Curtis-Beard – which trended #1 on TikTok’s Original Music charts for 7 days straight and over 428K streams on Spotify (and counting) – Dolly Ave is ready to make her own mark on the music scene with her first full-length offering to fans.
Written towards the end of 2019, Dolly’s seven-track record Sleep is a collection of lo-fi songs that sit at the intersection of pop, R&B, and bedroom vulnerability, as the tracks move through the ebb and flows of a relationship. “It’s not a heartbreak album,” Dolly insists, though she created the album freshly after a break-up while she was still in the throes of finding closure. “It’s definitely me finding empowerment in the vulnerability of each stage.”
Leading off with the single “Noise,” a glowing, propulsive track of wavy synth and Dolly’s signature gauzy vocals, was also, ironically, the last song written. Penned “in five minutes” during a random studio session with a friend in December 2019, it’s the crowning capstone of the project and contains the time-earned wisdom to match. “Don’t know what I saw/ Falling, falling over you,” she breathes, her voice delicate enough it nearly evaporates. “I had actually moved on completely [from the relationship], so [this song] sounds a little different from the other songs,” she says. “But I like that it’s empowering, and this is how I actually feel.”
However, the heart of the album beats on “Florida,” the project’s bittersweet, and penultimate track that also delivers in-hand a remarkable dose of compassion. Over a blanket of layered vocals and sunset-streaked instrumentals, Dolly gently reassures herself and, maybe, the listener: “It might take some weeks/ Just take the time you need/ Don’t get stuck on knowing why.” It’s a cleansing listen, one that feels synonymous with that twilight hour drive where worries finally dissipate and the world fractures back into clarity.
In a full-circle moment for the young artist, “Occupied,” an upbeat, hip-hop-leaning track, features Tim Atlas — a collaboration that Dolly says is “really lovely…that a girl from the middle of nowhere got to write a song with somebody she used to watch on YouTube.”
“I grew up in a situation and circumstances that were out of my control in a state where I felt like I couldn’t leave it,” she says. “I want someone to listen to [my music], someone not in a big city. Someone that can click on me and say, ‘She started out too. She started with a webcam, or no music experience and look, she’s playing something that is beautiful.’”
Dolly Ave is not only an emerging artist in the creative industry, but also an award-winning photographer who has worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and the Migos. Raised in Kansas City, Missouri by two immigrant parents from Vietnam, Dolly Ave speaks of her inspiration to pursue a creative career with an undeniable fervor saying that she makes music “for young artists, for the underprivileged, and for the misunderstood.”