Not Wanting To “Settle Down”
Photo by Nick Blair for Warner Brother Records
Somethings just don’t have to make any sense, and that is completely okay. The sentiment isn’t just some pop psychology gobbledygook, but how I felt after listening to New Zealand artist Kimbra’s four song E.P. “Settle Down.”
How to describe Kimbra’s sound is if Regina Spektor, Nellie McKay and Björk all got together and had a baby.
The combination of loud instrumentals with her high voice reminded me of what music hipsters listen to when shopping at popular VCU-centric clothing store Rumors. And at a mere 21 years of age, I can see why.
On the flip side, they are also the kind of songs you listen to when you’re in a very specific mood and feel like being creative. I can definitely picture some of my friends producing some abstract pieces of art with Kimbra’s music as the inspiration.
The E.P. opens up with the title track that reached No. 37 on the New Zealand charts back in 2010. It’s a very intense use of jazz vocals and instrumentals that sound as if it should be played in small coffee houses throughout America.
The second track “Limbo” was my least favorite that was featured. The sound was not the best use of her unique vocals and didn’t necessarily inspire me to do the “Limbo” anytime soon. However, the use of percussion adds a noteworthy element to the high energy song.
Normally, I really hate remixes on albums or E.P.’s. To me, they just seem like an artist’s lazy attempt not to give their fans another song without really doing the work themselves. However, the Sam Sparro & Golden Touch Remix of her song “Cameo Lover” was by far the most unique and creative on the album. When listening to it, I can totally see it being the background music to some very progressive performance art piece at a New York City art museum.
It’s a bit all over the place, causing the listener to go on a roller coaster ride, but not a very rapid one. More of the kind in the Kids Zone section of Kings Dominion. “Plain Gold Ring” is the final song on the E.P. and is comparatively more subdued than the rest of the album. The song is billed as one she recorded live at the famed Sing Sing Studios. It’s much slower and jazzy, letting Kimbra’s vocals really take center stage.
Here’s the only problem with “Settle Down” – it’s not music that fits in a box or has any hope of ever becoming mainstream or get much radio play, at least in the United States. And that’s okay. Listeners have to be in a very specific mood in order to appreciate it.
However, as someone who considers himself fairly open-minded when it comes to music, I definitely appreciate the art. The combination of vocals and instrumentals are unique, artistic and something that I haven’t heard from an artist in a long time.
People who really like music will like Kimbra. Not pop music, not jazz music, not instrumental music, but in general fans of music (and hipsters) will get into Kimbra.
Justin Lowenhagen is a local news anchor, reporter, and actor. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Dec. 2011 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism.
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