Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Although this collaboration with Mara TK of the electronica outfit Electric Wire Hustle will doubtless be read in some circles as a departure for Smith, most often known for her sky-scaling soul style -- as she notes in this interview with Elsewhere -- this is just growth.
And because Smith's work and difficulties have been lived out in the public domain after that high profile experience with the Blue Note subsidiary label Manhattan at the start of her career, she is right to remind us that she was young then, and still is.
So inevitably she is still exploring her potential and on this album -- her voice restrained, deftly deployed as another instrument in the whole canvas being painted -- she moves down a notch from the excellent previous album Humour and the Misfortune of Others.
Now we hear even more subtlety coming through (the understated but tense Living for Living where she once might have let go into over-emoting) and the album's segues from one song/piece to another give it an interesting ambient quality also.
Mara's music (co-written with Smith and others, and realised by a small cast) is also textured: the elegantly spare backdrop on Ship Her to Another World where Smith's processed vocals have a liquid feel; hints of Bootsy-funk in The Spirit Racing in the Mind and nightclub soul-noir in the space-age Transcendence; the gorgeously cinematic Promised Land Hotel which sounds like it has stepped out of a Sixties soundtrack where Smith is given just enough space to let go a little Shirley Bassey . . .
So maybe not a tangent or departure, but simply Smith finding her voice in another interesting context.
Six weeks from start to finish? That's impressive.
So is this.
Like the sound of this? Then check out this.