Lydia Jenkin

Lydia Jenkin is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Album review: Banks, Goddess

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Sounding like the love child of Nelly Furtado and James Blake, 26-year-old Californian Jillian Banks' debut album has a wondrous confidence and is the work of an artist dead certain of who she wants to be.

Five tracks (out of 14) are from her previous two EPs, or have been released as singles, but laid out with the other nine, she's come up with something dark, seductive, and original.

The palette of electro neo-noir RnB, courtesy of rising Brit producer Lil Silva, allows her to range through wide vocal personalities - primal, vulnerable, menacing, despairing, coy - all the while keeping you firmly submerged in a world of shadowy club nights.

The stripped back piano outro on opener Alibi belies her origins as a bedroom composer simply singing and fiddling with a keyboard, and despite the many shaded layers of arrangement and production on the album, the strength of the melodies and hooks shows she's still very much an intuitive songwriter at heart.

She's a songwriter who knows how to showcase her own unusual voice too -- there's a touch of Bat For Lashes in the intimate piano ballad Waiting Game, but then she manages to channel Justin Timberlake in the harmonies and dripping-with-attitude vocal acrobatics of This Is What It Feels Like.

She shows off her pipes with a stripped back pop-diva performance on You Should Know Where I'm Coming From, but then goes for a colder, almost falsetto sound as she scatters her words across the shimmying beat of Stick.

The light comes in for the first time on the more soft-focus F*** Em Only We Know, which unfortunately ends up feeling a touch one-dimensional, but she builds back up again, through cynical but hope-filled Change, and oddly sweet guitar-led Someone New, to downbeat favourite Warm Water, and loungey torch song Under The Table. If the last third of the album isn't as strong as the first, at least she's taking some risks.



Verdict: Distinctive electro RnB debut for solo songstress.

- TimeOut

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