Los Angeles based artist Irene Diaz drops her sultry, straight-to-the-heart debut album, Lovers & Friends, a carefully crafted collection of emotional songs written over the past five years. Starting with 20 demos, Irene Diaz embarked on a journey of self discovery, refining, reworking and selecting the 10 tracks that make up her bittersweet release.
On Lovers & Friends, Irene Diaz rides the line between classic love-torn ballads and pop driven melodies that rise and fall like eyelids drawn behind rose colored glasses. Peering through rosy lenses, Diaz opens up her heart to capture a sense of honesty and vulnerability, not shying away from admitting when she wants something she can’t have or giving into feelings of love, regardless of the outcome, always hoping for the best even when she is swimming upstream in a river of doubt.
Kicking off with “Lovers & Friends,” featuring Pere George, Diaz jumps into her album with a barrage of shimmering synth and belladonna vocals, capturing the strange in-between place where a lover is no longer a lover and friendship is a hard concept to wrap around someone you once had so much intimacy with.
“It’s hard to be friends when you have been lovers,” notes Diaz. “There’s no denying it. ‘Lovers & Friends’ teeters on the boundaries of what it is to be a friend when the fire still burns within two former lovers.”
In ”Call Me,” she amps up her conviction, speaking honestly to the other half of a lost relationship, opening up a painful past to try and course correct for a better future. Other tracks, including “Me and My Babe” and ”Push” touch on our inability to control how we feel or who we fall in love with.
Weaving in upbeat tracks with slower, crescendoing ballads, Diaz encapsulates a breadth of knowledge and accountability, widening her scope of love and musing on the mysterious depths that lie within us all; a concept she embeds into the album artwork.
“The Lovers & Friends artwork is a representation of the ocean of love, one in which we sometimes sink or swim in,” she says. “This ocean is mysterious – the moment you enter it, you are forced to embrace the unknown. The only equality in all of life is love. Love is equally beautiful and painful . . . drown in your ocean of love.”
Executive produced by Carla Morrison, and produced and engineered by Alejandro Jiménez and Demian Jiménez, Lovers & Friends is an album that challenges the lines between love and indifference, but also one that has pushed Irene Diaz herself to new heights and new ways of thinking.
“When I first started this project back in 2017 I had this idea the music was going to be very much like Adele, very gospely, and it took a twist from there,” Diaz notes. “They just pulled apart my songs, which is something I wanted. I wanted to challenge myself and break away and see what someone else could do, and I really got that. It was difficult for me to do it. The songs had been written and I thought they were the best they could be, but (the Jimenezes) pushed me and there was a lot of push and pull, but I’m really happy with where they took me and how they came out.”
Brave enough to let the currents carry her but with a conviction to keep her head above water, Diaz’s debut album resonates with anyone who has ever taken a chance with romance and proves to be her most daring work yet. Just as she lets her emotions swell with the tides, she pushes herself musically, showcasing not only talent and conviction, but also a curious and flexible work ethic.
Words: Patti Sanchez