Columbus vocalist/producer Renee Dion first made a splash about five years ago, when she collaborated with producer Jon Rogers to deliver the album Moonlight. Her most recent release was her self-produced album, Haven, which came out in 2017. She now comes back with a surprise EP, Sonic Chocolate.

If I was going to describe this EP in one word, it would be smooth. Dion uses a mix of synthesizers, bass, and drum machines to create an ‘80s-influenced style of R&B, one that sounds a little bit West Coast in its overall style, but is kept on a much more intimate level, never getting too loud or funky. This isn’t a party EP, so that’s not what this occasion calls for. Dion is also bringing some jazz-influenced R&B vocals to round out the sound of the EP. Her tone is pure and silky, and she has a great knack for melody and hooks, but she never needs to raise her voice to get your attention. Instead, she draws you in with these incredibly warm compositions with great grooves and a voice that falls somewhere between Sade and Erykah Badu, both in terms of style and tone. Dion certainly understands that less is more, and she never feels the need to show off within her music. She gives you just enough to create interest and make you lean in to check out all of the subtleties of her music. Her closest contemporary is probably Sassy Black, but Dion has more of a pop sensibility to her song structures. The real gem of the EP comes on the last track, “Black Passion,” a song that works both romantically and more broadly, becoming an ode to the expression of African American community.

Renee Dion might not get the praise she deserves, but hopefully Sonic Chocolate will turn a few heads. She’s incredibly talented as both a producer and vocalist, and she packs a lot of beautiful music into this EP.