Florida Dame, formerly known as Sidney Chase, has has already accomplished a good deal in the winding road of her career. She first broke into public consciousness with a phenomenal cover of the Bee Gees’ “I Started A Joke” which was used in the original trailer for Suicide Squad, back when people were still optimistic that Suicide Squad could actually be a good movie. Transgender discourse back in 2015 was hardly what it is in 2020, making it even more remarkable that Florida, as a transwoman, was able to perform at The White House. Apart from that, she also brought a fresh perspective to publications like HuffPost, Cosmopolitan, and Thought Catalog. In recent years however she had returned to central Florida to begin working on films while also getting back into releasing music.
Her newest project, Lucky Me, which just dropped on Spotify and Youtube serves at introspective look at her own work and faults. The cover of the album has the singer-songwriter staring down the camera as a light shines on her face, grotesquely pained with a fat lip and two black eyes, which sets the tone for an album that is both melancholic and cathartic. The album opens with a voicemail message, and while it’s unclear if Dame is the one leaving it or is voicing a character who’s the message, the one quote that sticks out the most from the recording is, “You haven’t been yourself.” From there, the album establishes an enduring theme of being grandiose, bombastic, and yes, fun, in tracks like “Jay Gatsby”, “Little Miss Danger”, and “Honey Babe”, which all focus on Dame embracing a pseudo-alternative persona to either hide or heel her flaws. At times she even channels the aesthetics of other singers. Little Miss Danger has the intense fighting energy of a song that would make a killer entrance for a wrestler in a Japanese Joshi wrestling federation; it sounds like something Grimes would make in the vain of “Kill V. Maim”. Meanwhile, “Honey Babe” sounds inspired by Ciara’s “Body Party”, right down to the instrumental.
The high energy bops are counterbalanced with moodier songs like “Paper Heart”, “Nobody Move”, and “Oceans”. Each of these three tracks has Dame speaking honestly, unable to keep up the facade of the characters she wants herself to embody. They are apocalyptic, resigned and depressed. “Made Me Like” even hints at some sort of abuse or at the very least Stockholm Syndrome, as Dame continues repeating “you made me like this,” over and over and over. The word “like” in this case, not being used as a simile, but instead to indicate that she’s been forced to enjoy the act of putting on other facades where she can’t express her true self. Dame is a warrior however, and in the end the story the album tells ultimately reaches a place of comfort and confidence. “Bruises” shows a will to move on in spite of faults, emotional or otherwise, and “Disappear” builds lyrically and instrumental into a bold and motivated outro. Dame made her point strongest on “Stories”, in which she comes to the conclusion that past traumas can’t simply be compartmentalized and packed away. We cannot fit own own stories into boxes neat and tidy and think that will be the last of them, they need to be recognized and dealt with. For her to live this message in real time by dealing with her traumas on wax only makes this track all the more powerful.
Dame shows a great deal of range through the entire project, both emotionally and sonically. She flexes everything from Adele style vocals like on “Nobody Move” all the way into making some “lo-fi hip-hop beats to study and relax to” with tracks like “Strange Planet”. With this album Florida Dame showed that in the time since she was first popping she has not missed a step, and if anything is getting better everyday.