Sydnee Monday

On a starless night, Maria Popova remembers walking down a back road with her friend, Amanda, who had her newborn son strapped to her chest. Mourning the loss of a longtime relationship, Popova describes the darkness being so thick that "each stride seemed to slice the air apart." And then they came to a clearing that stunned her — in the middle of the woods, a glow-worm constellation.

At 22, Brent Faiyaz is Grammy-nominated for singing the bouncy hook to GoldLink's summer-defining "Crew," a D.C.-centric celebration of being alive and young, black and striving. It's about the bond shared with people who've been there from the beginning.

Since H.E.R.'s 2016 debut, Volume 1, there's been a smokescreen surrounding the anonymous singer. She's lights down low, sunglasses on, a curly head of hair seen from behind. Her music is the opposite. Vulnerable and honest, her new EP, Volume 2, explores the best and worst parts of intimacy. But "I Won't" finds H.E.R. at an important transition point: outside of any intimacy at all.