SZA’s debut full-length record “Ctrl” opens with the arresting track “Supermodel,” which starts, after some words of wisdom from the singer’s mother, with some of the strange wobbly guitar that shows up elsewhere on the record, SZA’s expressive singing, which has a little Ella Fitzgerald and a little Erykah Badu in it.
The record is excellent, almost avant-garde in its use of textures, an heir to D’Angelo’s hugely influential “Voodoo,” but also futuristic with its twitchy rhythms and use of digitally stretched sounds. Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad both make guest appearances on the record.
SZA balances an impressive candor — about relationships, self-doubt and other tricky subjects — with an appealingly idiosyncratic rawness. There are a lot of seriously hooky tracks on the record, which was up for numerous Grammys. SZA didn’t win any Grammys, which is a massive injustice if you expect critical insights from such awards events. But “Ctrl” was rightly atop many year-end-best lists for 2017.
Prediction: she’ll mostly be playing much bigger venues soon.
SZA plays Toad’s Place, 300 York St., New Haven, Thursday, Feb. 8, at 9 p.m. $35. toadsplace.com and 203-624-8623.