Getting to Know H.E.R.


Maggie Mahoney

Who is Gabriela Wilson? Wilson’s most recent, 2019 compilation album: I Used to Know Her grapples with exactly that question. Wilson, known professionally as H.E.R (Having Everything Revealed), is a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter who made a name for herself through Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing in 2009.

She was signed to RCA Records where she released her first single in 2014: “Something to Prove” under her real name. She later re-emerged as the H.E.R persona in 2016 with the release of her debut EP: H.E.R. Volume 1. Her ascent into stardom quickly followed suit. In 2019, H.E.R. was nominated for five Grammy’s, winning Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Album.

Bringing listeners smooth vocal runs and lush, sultry melodies, H.E.R continues to impress her fans with her vocal ability and honest, emotional lyrics. Her most recent album is no different, although there are hints of uncertainty in this album, reflecting the identity crisis she feels.

I Used to Know Her undoubtedly has a more experimental sound. I appreciated some of the ways Wilson branched out. For example, she rapped on several tracks like “Lost Souls” and “21,” which felt like a compelling departure from her usual R&B style. Other experiments, however, seemed to fall flat. Some of the tracks on the album like “Something Keeps Holding Me Back” seemed to me like pale imitations of her previous music with less heart and less melodic and lyrical interest.

My favorite tracks of the album: “Hard Place,” “As I Am” and “Could’ve Been” feel reminiscent of H.E.R’s earlier music from her 2017 compilation: H.E.R.

“Hard Place” features soft drums with H.E.R’s velvety voice layered over top. The lyrics are hard-hitting, addressing an emotionally draining and unhealthy relationship and debating whether to stay or leave. H.E.R. perfectly captures the pain and uncertainty of the situation in this song, singing: “But I’d rather fight. Than lose sleep at night. At least you’re all mine…And even when you ’cause tears. You’re the one who wiped them away. Maybe that’s the reason I stay.”

“As I Am” has a more upbeat tempo to contribute to the confident tone of the track. In the song, H.E.R. tells her lover: “take me as I am,” reminding them “You know I’m the best” and “Don’t take me for granted. You’ll be regretting it. Oh, I should be your last.”

“Could’ve Been” is a smooth and soulful track, featuring Bryson Tiller. Their duet about regretting the one that got away highlights both of their vocal abilities. The two sign in unison the emotionally vulnerable chorus: “We could’ve been. And we try to pretend. Every now and again. We don’t dream about, don’t think about what we could’ve been.”

To learn more about H.E.R, visit her website link. Her music is available for streaming on a variety of platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio).