Tirzah has been reaching a particular audience with her contemporary, streetwise voice since her debut EP for the Greco-Roman label in 2013. Now her soulful style reaches a wider audience on her debut LP for big boys Domino records. Co-created and written with Mica Levi who also produced, 'Devotion' is an 11-track set of intimate songs dripping with romance, sadness and desire. This is British R'n'B at its most innovative.
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It's been awhile since I heard an R&B album I actually like. Autotune and over emoting does for most of the stuff I hear these days but this is something different entirely. It's dark, it's murky and Tirzah often sings as if her mouth has been stuck shut with gaffer tape. She mumbles. She mumbles like Martina Topley Bird mumbled on early Tricky records. She mumbles like Dean Blunt. But her mumbling fits perfectly with the murky lo-fi beats across this record, the grainy melodies that inhabit it's corners. It's a delight when she breaks into song as on the lovely squirmy 'Holding On' with it's unusual synth textures and lolloping beat, the melody recalling the B52s 'Legal Tender'. Elsewhere we have twilit r&b made out of the simplest of ingredients but with production ticks left right and centre. Check out the cough at the beginning of 'Affection' for an example of how the record allows its flaws to show. And even if you hear textures from artists all the way from the XX to Amy Winehouse lurking under the surface the record always sounds gritty and on the edge because the best records always do. You are never actually sure where it's going next.
It's ridiculously innovative and I have to agree with the Domino press release when it states that you feel like you are listening to a landmark. I sense in a couple of years people will be copying this sound. Get in first and, like me, pretend you knew all along about what a special artist we have here.
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