Album Reviews: Denzel Curry, Anna B Savage, Katy Kirby
Anna B Savage — A Common Truth (London, U.K.)
Whether from its emotional content or just the mood it carries in its instrumental bones, Anna B Savages latest release has a feeling that is best described as brutal. With overwhelming sweeps of harmony and a momentum of change, this is a record coming deep from within and unfiltered. "Corncrakes" slowly winds up its downbeat story into this frantic declaration of uncertainty as it seems to either revel in it or just lose itself to it. The sad movement of "BedStuy" goes from worried to a dream-like EDM flutter, for an overtly visual experience. While similar, the more drone-like guitar playing of "Two" provides a much more natural transition into its amorphous dance section, as Savage seems hellbent on following where a moment takes her rather than a genre convention. The angry charge of "Chelsea Hotel #3" itself takes the growing frustration in the track and lets its blown out finale serve as this kind of cry-out apex of its fury.
Denzel Curry — So.Incredible.pkg (Carol City, FL)
Merging the worlds of modern soul artists, art-rap stylings, jam indie music and the nerdy sample ideas that have worked so well with the likes of Czarface, Denzel Curry is truly on a powerful tear. The cool flowing guitars lull you in, while a slamming bass just comes in to make you move here. Curry's verses cuts with a more focused grit here to contrast the base of the track, while a Solange/Kadhja Bonet vocal solo just flutters behind like a woodwind. The whole track plays on fun tropes while focusing on Curry's story, and mixes in so many fun allegories to Captain Planet, Star Wars and Bob Ross that it's endlessly exciting to go back to. Curry is constantly morphing his sound to craft the best song regardless of what one would expect from him before that this just feels like a fun new trip for him. Though some looking for that grimy Curry from "Ultimate" or "Ricky" will think this is his quiet break, this is a great fusion record that celebrates much more great music adjacent to the artists mentioned above while still getting the most of Curry's own voice.
Katy Kirby — Cool Dry Place (Nashville, TN)
Charm and unique moments give the music of Katy Kirby this powerful punch that elevates their above many similar-sounding artists. With a confidence and drive to make unbelievably tight songs with everything you need, Kirby has truly focused every lesson from the pop before them into both a science and art. "Juniper" is a perfect example as it takes its bouncy guitar-pop, breaks it up with a fun, snappy line, and then slowly rolls more glorious tones and even a melancholic bridge into this short track. There's a more funky and rhythmic drive to "Peppermint" that constantly shifts between making you want to dance or sing along, while its horns breathe in a sense of joy that's undeniable. The ambient feeling of "Portals" let the song feel like it's emerging from another world, ultimately resulting in the albums most pensive track. The shimmering and otherwise playful guitars of "Fireman" round the record out on a song full of character, whether it seems to be a little cheeky or wondrously hopeful.
Valerie June — Why the Bright Stars Glow (Memphis, TN)
With a cosmic sense of delight, Valerie June's latest track looks beyond the self. With her calming waves of piano, June seems to fall into the comfort of seeing the size of the universe for what it is. This exact feeling grabs hold of the music, letting the layered stacks of free flowing, harmonic vocals all play in and out of the chorus, always being pulled back stronger than ever to boom out bigger than the last one. June's interplay on her own voice leaves the track as a colourful patchwork of instrumental pieces all colliding with the right spirit to inspire others.
Ghetts — Conflict of Interest (London, U.K.)
Ghetts takes the London rap sound and brings in a sonic depth that really flips it on its head. With its swirling strings and a sense of scope "Mozambique" runs with a cinematic scope, riding its euphoric bass groove to keep the track moving. With Skepta landing great lines on "IC3" the pair tell a dark tale, as the whole track relentlessly drags you into the fear and glory of their lives. There's a sense of love on "Sonya" that soars in the heavy tone elsewhere on the record, with Emili Sande helping Ghetts find a more touching note. Though a little drawn out, "Crud" hits the most grimy heights of the record, with Ghetts exploding against his world and the pressure to keep evolving.