Album Review: Amber Mark – Three Dimensions Deep

[PMR/Interscope; 2022]

Ever since she release her 2016 debut single “S P A C E” on Soundcloud, Amber Mark has occupied a specific section of our minds, dwelling within our consciousness with her raw singing ability and talent, convincing the collective at large that she is simply a star in the making. And there is no way around it.

Utilizing her debut project, 2017’s 3:33am, like a therapy session, Mark explored and displayed the seven stages of grief as she mourned and celebrated the life of her late mother. Then we received her four-track EP, 2018’s Conexão, which dealt with the trajectory of a budding relationship degrading into a failed romance. Each of the four songs served as an emotional stamp of where the relationship was.

The evolution of Mark as a musician and an artist can be traced through the projects mentioned above. It’s through this growth that we receive her debut album, Three Dimensions Deep, which takes these concepts from 3:33am and Conexão, burrowing deeper into the mechanics of their shared themes and other anxieties as she attempts to bring it all together to understand better life’s biggest question behind it all: Why? 

To most clearly understand her new body of work, it’s best to examine the thematic elements and how Mark structured her work around them. The album is partitioned off into three inspection points: ‘without’, ‘withheld’, and ‘within’; Mark travels through the essence of self concerning the grander scale of the universe, pondering her purpose. In discussing the inception of the album and her objective in creating her debut album Mark touched on the sense of self-discovery and seeing yourself as a whole universe that holds incredible secrets, saying: “Three Dimensions Deep is a musical journey of what questions you begin to ask yourself when you start looking to the universe for answers. I can only go as deep as the third dimension as that’s how we see the world, but what about when you start looking to the universe within for answers.” 

Beginning the album ‘within’, Mark starts her journey at “One” – a song that wrestles with the swelling pressure from responsibilities that not only come with being an artist that has a bit of a reputation for getting better with every release, but also as a mere human in the face of the universe’s grand design. Setting forth concern for her identity through chaos, Mark sings, “Goddamn this pressure is having me feeling frustrated / And all this bad weather following me like we’re dating / Trying to be what they dream what they fantasize / And still be me me myself at the same fucking time.” The song absolutely bangs with a perfectly chopped sample, a slick boom-bap beat riddled with dirty drums that fit perfectly with the confidence Mark displays in her performance.

Following the momentum outlined in “One”, “Most Men” serves as a masterfully crafted cautionary tale warning other women of a man who cares not for her heart. Shifting from a low key soul number into a swirling melodic, “Most Men” is carried by Mark’s passion for brutal truth as she relays sound advice to ladies who may or may not be involved with a fuck boy. The song’s crescendo heightens the blunt message through its juxtaposition with the beautiful arrangement backing sitting neatly behind Mark’s vocals. 

Hitting the ‘withheld’ section of the album, we arrive at “FOMO”, a song that very well may be the anthem for the social media era. Seemingly interpolating Beyoncé’s “Deja Vu”, “FOMO” details the overwhelming amount of anxiety one faces when we let a state of constant worry render us helpless, believing that our fate should be a self-imposed exile. An infectious groove serves as the foundation, as Mark bares her vulnerabilities, starting the song singing, “I’ve been / So stuck up on all of these drama feelings / Cooped up in my room thinkin’ bout problems / Getting getting nowhere nowhere.” The song progresses as the singer realizes that she doesn’t have to let these intrusive thoughts block her from living her life; she can break free and live a fulfilling life. Mark’s revealing songwriting works to captivate the listener as the songs only get better with each successive track, each successive layer showcasing a bit more of her truth. 

It all comes to a head with the triumphant “Darkside”, a track that radiates a Prince-like performance as we enter the “without” portion of the album. “Darkside” is a stunning declaration of musical excellence; Mark is in complete control with every breath she takes, every run she executes, and it’s stellar in every fashion. On an album that explores the insecurities, anxieties, and instances of self-doubt, this track almost acts like a full emotional release held up by the unforeseen forces that Mark stated could be found within ourselves.

Ultimately, we arrive at the album’s attempt to answer the initial question of “why?” in one of its final moments in “Worth It”. With a soul seemingly born anew, Mark utilizes “Worth It” to directly address the album’s traces of self-doubt and anxiety, dismantling the idea that she isn’t worthy of being happy, singing “I cannot even see the belief that I had wayback when I know that / You get so used to it / Always living in regret / Your dreams never left your head / But when you talk to me / I can see the light shining / So bright that it is blinding / Just let it out.”

As the album comes to a close, we are left to ponder our own existential dread. Looking at our lives and asking “why?” may not give us the answer we desire at that moment, but it’s a start. And what Amber Mark does on Three Dimensions Deep is that aforementioned ‘start’ in the form of masterly crafted music.

The R&B/Soul/Bossa Nova-meshing artist hailing from Tennessee wields a gift to magnify both her and our worries, anxieties, shortcomings and dejected doubts of lost love; her pen excels in etching out the intricate wonders of the emotional spectrum in a way that shows an advanced progression of both musical and emotional maturation. Three Dimensions Deep is a wonder, and I’m sure we’ll be pointing to this album when we look back to what point the world knew Mark was a star. And probably also when a new generation of people began to address their lives’ “why?”