Soul

Up and Coming – Carmody, ‘The Ways of Your Love’

Carmody-11

With the current rise of artists such as Loyle Carner and Tom Misch, frequent collaborator Carmody continues to release fantastically well-polished tracks, her most recent effort coming in the form of ‘The Ways of Your Love’.

Expertly treading the fine line between celestially haunting and comforting warmth, ‘The Ways of Your Love’ sounds as if it could be performed by a significantly sized orchestra, slowly building towards a crescendo with blooming strings and understated percussion providing the backdrop for an intense vocal delivery, finishing as it began, with softly plucked guitar. The instrumental has an odd juxtaposing effect on the listener, in that it is at once calming and enveloping whilst at the same time being slightly unsettling, reflecting the uncertainty of the South London artist when tackling their feelings towards the subject of the song – this gives way to the swelling finish to the song where emotions overcome and overpower.

The true strength of Carmody is her voice – the ballad is sung with a crystalline clarity and shows great range, even within singular verses and choruses, reaching passionate notes with apparent effortlessness, combining power with an emotional form of breathlessness.

A grand winter song indeed, and a strong end to an already strong year.

“I wanted to write about the electricity you can have with someone even though you have nothing in common… go where your body takes you, sometimes” – Carmody 

Listen to the track below, via Soundcloud

This article was written by Mo Hafeez – with thanks to Isobel Williams (WHITEBOARD)

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Album Review – ‘M3LL155X’ by FKA twigs

FKA twigs has had a knack for introducing slightly more abstract and artistic R&B/hip-hop a wider audience right from her first release, EP1. Through her follow-ups EP2 and LP1 she managed to establish her music by pairing the releases with visual counterparts that really brought her whole sound together.

With M3LL155X (‘Mellissa’), she takes a significant leap forward, and it’s most definitely musically – yes, the experimental sound is still there, and yes, following the line of her previous releases, there’s a curious, strange, and erotic short-film to go with the release as well, but what Tahliah Barnett brings on top of this is much improved songwriting.

Opener ‘Figure 8’ features walls of distortion, expected by those familiar with the artist, sandwiched by breathy-voiced singing overplayed atop a lurching bass which makes the track approachable for newer fans – twigs’ almost seems vulnerable and exasperated, singing “Paper cut it, I feel//The slightest rip is a river overflowing me”.

However, it’s revealed on ‘I’m Your Doll’ that this is merely a pose for her  – the track’s highly sexual lyrics show her growing frustration, and this is matched to great effect by an instrumental that slowly swells, sputtering percussion joined by eerie synth notes and distortion towards the close.  ‘In Time’ shows twigs releasing in an almost irate fashion, hissing “You’ve got a goddamn nerve” at her lover. It’s a complete switch-up from submissive to dominant, twigs exploring what it means (to her) to be a woman. The trap-esque beat behind this, big bass and percussion to boot, probably make this the most approachable track on the EP.

‘Glass & Patron’ comes next with a more abstract vibe – twigs seems to doubt herself, synths droning in the background whilst she paints an almost desperate image of herself trying to impress, and then snaps back into confidence with singing “I can’t wait to make your body my own”, asking her partner to pose for her. The instrumental almost breaks apart, sped up vocals and an eclectic beat spinning things out of control before twigs enters back into the frame. ‘Mothercreep’ closes out the EP, scuttling and whirring, twigs unsettlingly singing “I creep for you//I’ll be there soon”.

You might finish this record asking yourself what the fuck you just listened to if you’re not one to listen to experimental music, and it might take multiple listen-throughs to get fully immersed into FKA twigs’ dystopian like scenery, both lyrically and musically. And yes, the cuts might not be too conventional, and may be jarring for new listeners, but you’d be hard pressed to say she’s not talented. Many wait with baited breath for her next release.

This article was written by Mo Hafeez

What we’re listening to (#9): Otis Redding

Otis Redding is widely considered to be one of the greatest soul singers of all time, and has been a seminal artist in the genres of Soul and Rhythm and Blues – despite tragically passing away in a plane crash at just 26 years old, his six albums provided inspiration to many artists, from George Harrison to Kanye West and Jay-Z.

Having been inspired by Little Richard, Redding’s unique voice and emphatic live shows made him one of the greatest musicians of the 1960s – usually we only write about a single album that we’re listening to, but with the King of Soul, I just couldn’t narrow it down.

A personal favourite of mine, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is an incredible cover of the Rolling Stones’ hit – Redding introduces brass fanfares and his emphatic voice which always has a little growl to give a little oomph to the classic:

The Monterey Pop Festival was seen to be Otis’s breakout concert, and he had previously been performing in front of mainly African-American crowds. 

It’s well known that Redding didn’t have an incredible vocal range (in fact, it’s widely reported that Johnny Cash had a larger vocal range than him) – that didn’t even matter. What did matter was the absolute passion and emotion that he sang with. It was almost unrivalled, and ‘These Arms of Mine’ perhaps show this best:

Otis Redding had that Bob Dylan-like quality where you knew that what he was singing was straight from the heart, that it was completely honest – you can feel the love he sings about in slow ballads like ‘Cigarettes and Coffee’, and you can feel the electricity running through him when sings numbers like ‘Security’. And of course, how could one forget his universal hit, ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay’:

This article was written by Mo Hafeez

Album Review – ‘Caustic Love’ by Paolo Nutini

Paolo Nutini has grown up.

Having moved away from the folky sound of his previous two albums, These Streets and Sunny Side Up,  he seems to have found the sound he is most comfortable with a more produced and soul based feel. Striding forth with the first track of the album, ‘Scream (Funk my Life up)’ draws you into the album with a siren like ability. While hints of the Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder are seen, it’s most definitely his own song and it’s no coincidence this is the most popular track of the album. It ‘screams’ (sorry) of the new-found maturity in his song writing and is a bold move from the go.

The album follows the classic Nutini pattern of glorious highs and mournful lows, one such low being ‘Iron Sky’. On this track Nutini’s vocals really shine through, and all his sorrows can be heard upon each note. Aided by haunting guitar effects and an echoing piano and bass, it is an intensely powerful song. ‘Iron Sky’ levels the mood midway through the album in epic fashion, and it’s evocative of Elbow in some respects – the guitars here are used in a way that shows his influences from the indie scene. It’s a really polished, fantastic song.

The album is interspersed with two ‘interludes’ and both are characterised by off-beat instrumentals and strong drums – they don’t drag on though, with their length both being under two minutes. The first, ‘Bus Talk (interlude)’, uses female vocals and a drum sample which reminds me of hip hop from the likes of Jay-Z and Kanye West. The second, ‘Super Fly (interlude)’, is almost a reggae style beat, with heavy bass and slightly discordant guitar. They provide short breaks from the main songs, and though they are an interesting concept, they don’t really add anything to the album and seem thrown in almost like a B-side.

‘Better Man’ sees the return to more familiar territory with the use of an acoustic guitar as the main instrument, especially in the beginning of the number. I definitely noticed subtle similarities songs in previous albums such as ‘Candy’ on Sunny Side Up. He then adds soulful electric guitar to break up the lines of lyrics, and it seems less stripped back and threadbare than previous songs.

Paolo sings an acoustic version of ‘Better Man’

Overall the album is extremely strong, and Paolo Nutini is in fine form after his long five year break. There are many exciting ideas running through the record, and while not all come off completely, most are a resounding success. The fact that his sound has changed so much yet he is both more confident and still recognisable is astounding. A fantastic album.

This article was written by Sam Brunt