Sometimes when you come across a debut album, you have to grade everything on a curve, keeping in mind that the artist is inexperienced and working out some growing pains in the studio. Occasionally, though, you come across a debut album that’s so strong and confident that you forget about all of that and just treat like any other album. Massachusetts emcee Alyssa Marie has accomplished that with HeartBeat.

One of the first things that hits you when listening to Alyssa Marie is just how confident she sounds on the mic. At a point where a lot of rappers are still figuring out who they are, it’s clear that Alyssa Marie has spent the time honing her skills and finding her voice before going into the studio. As a result, the album is very easy to listen to - you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Alyssa Marie is not easily pinned down, at different times reminding me of Dessa, Eternia, and K-Flay with her delivery. She can lay back in the groove of some midtempo funk, she can come to the front of the beat on a slower aggressive track to give her lyrics some extra weight, and she can come with some rapid fire wordplay. All of this is great, but what really elevates the album is the quality of Alyssa Marie’s lyrics. This is where she really establishes a unique voice as an artist, striking a great balance between abstract imagery, personal narratives, and some great battle rhymes. It’s not an easy balance to strike, but Alyssa Marie actually thrives there. Musically, the album compliments her rhymes extremely well, giving us a varied and cohesive listening experience. It seamlessly moves from dark and intimate tracks such as “Family” to funky tracks such as “Break Out,” to the anthem potential of the closing track, “Hold On Tight.”

I’m always excited to find new artists, and Alyssa Marie gives us plenty to be excited about. HeartBeat is such a complete listening experience with so many facets to it, I keep coming back for repeat listens to discover something new each time I listen to it. It’s a hell of a debut album, and I’ll be really excited to see where she goes from here.