Madeleine Grace is a Swedish/Congolese singer whose voice boasts the suppleness and heavenly aura of R&B luminaries. She uses this vocal talent to great effect on her recent single “Tombé,” which skews ever so slightly towards the realm of dancefloor bangers. The song initially lights up with a shimmering, radial melody that remains consistent throughout the track’s progression. Stacked atop this refrain are skittering percussive beats and bubbling bass, with Grace’s vocals delicately entangled in the mix.
Notably, Grace alternates between English and French throughout the track. This duality boldly pushes forward her message, because both languages are such an integral part of her identity. As she code switches, her expectations become all the more apparent.
On the chorus, Grace sings in English, opening with, “Maybe I can make it with you.” She mulls over whether or not the pursuit of a certain relationship is worth it, but she pledges to fully commit regardless. She teeters between romantic uncertainty and a strong desire for love before, on her French verses, affirming what she truly wants. Although the initial spark is only subtly there, it’s necessary to stoke the flames.
Grace knows her own boundaries and expresses her desires with a pointed assuredness. She’s way past those seminal stages of a relationship and is more explicit in her sentiments. “Promise to be your girl/the one to hold/if you always put me first,” she proclaims. It’s not much to ask for, but her standards are clear: she wants to be with someone who’s reciprocal and pure in their intentions. No games, no fuss.
There’s truly a sense of empowerment in speaking plainly, in being able to purge yourself of fear in love and in life. “Tombé” is Grace shedding those anxieties and making that impassioned plea for a lover’s embrace without settling for anything less than what she deserves. Amidst a deluge of synth numbers trickling out of Sweden and its neighbors, she stands out as an artist who won’t back down, one who may well become the Nordic countries’ next R&B tastemaker.