You’ve found yourself here before. At 3 AM, a text arrives. “U up?” it reads, not quite two words but it speaks volumes, a wealth of interpretations to be considered. Solána Rowe, aka SZA, contemplates such a message in a “Hotline Bling” reversal on “Love Galore”, the latest cut from her long-awaited debut LP, CTRL. While an early morning text might catch someone unawares, this messenger caught Rowe sounding mid-blunt, and she approaches its contents with curiosity and matter-of-fact musings.
“I need I need/I need I need” Travis Scott drones, unable to get his feelings across before Rowe gives him an answer: “Love.” A simple answer, but remarkably effective on SZA’s latest, Rowe at the center of a universe she constructed and the men who orbit her. Depicted not as a symbol of commitment to each other but to eroticism, love is used by Rowe as a justification for the mistakes her former lover apparently wants to make with her. In “Love Galore”, there’s just enough love to go around, but it only spans the area of a king-sized bed.
The beat, the boys, all of it falls into Rowe’s sphere of influence, topics and observations about which she muses, her voice like silk sheets. It pours outward in a stream-of-thought delivery, skipping over a fuckboy in triplets, all atop a smooth, sensual line of lulling bass and stretched synths. Her deliberate enunciation on certain phrases (“You got a prollem, beeches”) lets SZA thrive in her own vernacular, in charge of her voice and the conversation. She does it “for fun,” providing him fair warning that she, the other woman, is in control. As synths spread themselves over the track in lazy waves, Rowe reclines against them, considering her options.
As the first verse approaches the chorus, Rowe’s voice grows more brusque, and those silk sheets begin to scratch. After considering his bitch ass, Rowe begins to eviscerate it: “Why you bother me when you know you don’t want me/Why you bother me when you know you got a woman?” Her lover’s initial invitation soon becomes her own, Rowe taking charge of the situation and declaring to “Whatever I want/Whatever I need” without even asking if he’s down yet. She doesn’t have to because she already knows he is. For all the hits it lands on Rowe’s partner, “Love Galore” isn’t meant to be bellicose, but frank, an admission of desire and motive.
Contrasting Rowe’s detached confidence is Scott’s wounded pleas for attention. For all the machismo he usually exudes, he admits himself as a wreck at Rowe’s feet, in need of something his current girlfriend cannot give him. What she saw as a summer fling actually left Scott self-described mess. While Rowe appears curiously amused by his approach, if a little reproachful, Scott sounds desperate for answers, answers to situations he forced himself into. If you recall, he’s the one who reaches out droning about his needs he won’t name, but Rowe hesitates not at all with a promise of love.
Arriving at the outro, Rowe’s lost her patience, holding her man to his “promise to put it down.” The promise of good loving holds not enough sway for her, as her voice fades out. When she claims love is the only thing “keeping me by your side now,” the sentiment comes not as a threat but a reality. In a man’s attempt to carry out a self-centered affair, Rowe steers the conversation towards her own feelings: “Don’t take it personal/Personally, I’m surprised you called me after the things I said.” By taking the narrative for herself, Rowe evokes a voice of the other woman we don’t often hear, especially one so collected. There’s no remorse, no regrets, no anger, just love, but it’s rightly reserved for Rowe herself.