There has been somewhat of an atmospheric, sparsely produced trend steadily creeping into R’n’B lately, mainly coming from across the Atlantic with artists such as The Weeknd, Miguel and such, but Britain hasn’t had an answer for a while. However, with the emergence of artists like Sampha and Jessie Ware maybe we’re catching on. And floating to the top on little wings is the incredible FKA Twigs…
FKA’s hauntingly sweet voice really pulls you into a trance with her perfectly placed, chorally inspired harmonies giving you a sense of the turbulent emotions behind the lyrics.
Throughout you truly feel an impression of tremendous vulnerability beneath the doll-like exterior, as you’re asked, “was I just a number?” on the aptly titled ‘Numbers’ and told “when I trust you we can do it with the lights on”. The songwriting is a refreshing change from the usual relationship angst we hear so much of these days, instead touching on less frequented issues such as the insecurities behind a relationship, first sexual encounters, the wish to be closer to a partner and the fear of a partner seeing your less desirable traits.
Backed by incredibly sparse and magnificently subtle production, there’s a truly vast span of influences here. The merging of R’nB with electronic music is done perfectly; with a real post trip-hop vibe this is an unmistakably British take on an American sound with great results. With whispers of Prince, punk music, Billie Holiday, Siouxsie laced throughout, this is one of the most genre fluid albums I’ve heard in a long time.
For the most part I really love this project and I do look forward to hearing more in future, the only thing I want to hear from FKA at this point is some really well-chosen and inspired collaborations. I think a verse from Chance the Rapper or maybe a duet with Nick Hakim or JMSN might send me running and weeping tears of joy into a dance studio only to emerge with something truly unique. I can only hope that the UK public can catch on quick enough and appreciate FKA Twigs as much as I do at least before we lose what could quite possibly be the most capturing voice in R’n’B to come from our fair land since Marsha Ambrosious…and we know what happened there…
• Nick Hakim
• James Blake