Now that the bulk of the election frenzy has passed (well, sorta) and the holidays are on the horizon, we’ve officially transitioned into the most boo’d up time of year: cuffing season.
For the uninitiated to the cuddle-weather rendezvous, cuffing season describes the short timespan from October to Valentine’s Day when singles search for a partner to pass the winter months. We all know South Florida experiences year-round warmth with specks of cooler days, but for the sake of this article, let’s just say “winter” figuratively. Plus, you don’t need freezing temperatures to get cozy with someone.
What you will need to have in place is a COVID-safe plan to mitigate the risk of passing the virus to your partner or close friends and family members. Virtual partners, exclusivity, and being transparent about COVID test results or possible symptoms are a few of the many ways to reduce your chances of contracting the virus. But if you’re anything like this writer and don’t plan to have any strangers in your personal space until 2022, creating a playback-worthy R&B playlist, dousing your self-esteem in quick fixes — yes, I need five cowl-neck satin dresses and matching heels for each one to feel as extravagant as Diana Ross in Mahogany — and collecting a variety of wines will have to do in lieu of cuffing season.
Whether you’ve found the one worthy of your risking it all, lamenting complicated feelings from a past relationship, or looking to switch things up from your summer playlist, light a warm-scented candle and slow things down with the melodic offerings from these South Florida-bred artists.
Brent Ewing, “Tuscan Leather”
A sensual cocktail of romantic guitar licks and lyrics, Brent Ewing’s “Tuscan Leather” might have you reneging on your no-feelings-allowed cuffing season. Inspired by the earthiness of Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather scent, Ewing hits those same sweet and smoky notes in this passionate track. The accompanying visuals also encapsulate the song’s sultriness, letting the viewer know this up-and-comer is a love connoisseur. Similar to a luxe leather’s patina, his infatuated confessions only get better with time.
Yohan Marley featuring Jo Mersa Marley, “Brickell”
This reggae-R&B mashup by Yohan Marley and featuring Jo Mersa Marley provides the perfect soundtrack to a late-night cruise down Brickell Avenue. Sons of Grammy-award winning reggae artist Stephen Marley and grandsons of reggae titan Bob Marley, Yohan and Jo Mersa casually flex their musical prowess on this track. Yohan’s silky rasp juxtaposes Jo Mersa’s sharp flow, merging generations into a cohesive sound. Depicting the glow of Brickell after dark, Yohan and Jo Mersa embody Miami’s seductive appeal in the visuals for “Brickell.” Hop in the car with your partner — or solo — and momentarily drown out a somber 2020 while engulfed in a scenic and sonic vibe.
Johanna Jordan, “Sorry”
Johanna Jordan’s debut single, “Sorry,” navigates the onslaught of emotions post-breakup. In a melancholy reflection undergirded by the piano, Jordan bares her deepest thoughts in an apology to her ex and ultimately herself for the self-sabotage that frayed the relationship. Her airy melodies and stirring vocals give this song a classic feel. Yet her vulnerability sculpts this song into a powerful and relevant anthem on the complications of love.
Nia Ray, “Sober”
Featured on her most recent EP, What’s Love Anyways, “Sober” is a playful tune about the blissful high of a to-good-to-be-true love. Nia Ray’s soulful vocals layered with the track’s uptempo beat will have you quickly reminiscing and missing pre-Covid flings. Depicting the whirlwind of excitement from a secretive love, Ray details the experience of plunging into love slightly skeptical but mostly euphoric. Press play on this track to lighten the mood or to covertly daydream about a crush.
Cedric Brazle, “Rather Die”
Fueled by scorn at a lover’s betrayal, Cedric Brazle’s commitment to dying before going down the same path of heartbreak turns “Rather Die” into a cautionary tale. Influenced by Sam Cooke and Michael Jackson, Brazle infuses traditional R&B with pop undertones on this single from his debut EP, If I Knew Then.... His soul-bearing honesty works in harmony with his feathery vocals, exuding Brazle’s resentment and pain on his journey to healing. The emotions tinging Brazle’s emotional delivery on this track may have you cuffing a pillow instead of a partner.
Marlounsly, “Lie Again”
Sometimes cuffing season breeds toxic situationships instead of romantic companionships, and that’s exactly what Marlounsly’s “Lie Again” depicts. Fatigued by a deceptive lover, her effervescent sound yields a refreshing take on a break-up record. Marlounsly confidently sings through her emotions on “Lie Again” as she probes her partner for one more lie to unapologetically revel in her newfound freedom. Rewind this track again and again to remind yourself of your self-worth and the peace that exists after shedding an emotionally taxing relationship.
Nadége Nightingale, “Smell the Roses"
Nadége Nightingale’s “Smell the Roses” floats on a bed of funk-pop instrumentals and ethereal runs. A dreamy reminder to value your purpose above the fleeting gratification of relationships or jobs, Nightingale’s angelic voice is grounding and affirming. The track’s chorus (“What will be will be/make your destiny/Wakeup/Smell the roses”) shatters the hypnosis from being controlled by someone else’s expectations. A livelier alternative to mundane self-affirmations, let this inspirational song be your morning anthems instead. After all, there’s no finding love this cuffing season without providing that for yourself first.
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