Undoubtedly, the focal point in the music of Tune-Yards is Merril Garbus’ voice. Intense and disciplined, it channels an immense depth of emotion and state of being, expressed across a staggering hybrid of reggae, soul, jazz and folk influences. But it’s not the only thing worth listening to on Tune-Yards’ recent second album. Without sounding congested, w h o k i l l delights in musical complexity and rewards handsomely for each closer listen. On the standout slow-jam “Powa”, Garbus’ self-assured vocals prove unshakable, whether she’s cooing softly at the start, growling in increasing tension with each chorus, or breaking out into an impossible falsetto near the end. Yet it’s not difficult noticing the other layers that make the song what it is – the forceful ukelele strums, the angelic harmonies and evilish riffs, the luxurious reverb, and that wandering bassline that gratefully laps up anything in between. Its power inside, it rocks you like a lullaby. – Dan.
mp3: Tune-Yards – Powa
w h o k i l l is out now on 4AD.