Monday, June 4, 2012

Kimbra - Vows

She captivated my body and soul. For over eight months, Kimbra continues to possess a strong hold over my musical tastes and finally her debut, Vows, is now readily available in the United States. From the very first time I heard her vocals on “Somebody That I Used To Know” with Gotye I immediately knew Kimbra was a new, noteworthy voice to recognize.

Thank you Amy Ramirez for introducing me to Kimbra those many months ago and for accompanying me to Kimbra’s first headlining LA show at The Bardot. Amy, you’re the best and one of the coolest friends I have, so thank you!

Nowadays a sensational singer can be well-known before their debut album is released or become part of a phenomenon with a hit song. By now, almost all of America and the world has heard Kimbra’s wonderful voice thanks to Gotye’s chart-topping “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Her featured vocals are one of the highlights of that catchy song. After my first listen, I instantly fell in love with her voice and couldn’t wait to discover more of her music.

YouTube and MySpace became my only options since her debut was only available via import (digitally and physically). Like I have mentioned in previous posts, imports are awesome, but really ruin my wallet with their hefty price tags. On several occasions I heavily debated whether or not to purchase a “$25 debut album,” but resisted…just barely because Kimbra’s voice is definitely a worthy investment.

Vows is undeniable one of the most fun, fresh debuts to emerge in recent years. Native New Zealander Kimbra is one of the most engaging entertainers performing right now and seems like a seasoned veteran rather than “the new kid on the block.” Kimbra is one of the hottest and coolest singer-songwriters around having collaborated with soul star John Legend, Mark Foster (lead singer of Foster the People), and A-Trak to name a few. Her talent supersedes genres and continues to flourish across all sorts of the musical spectrum. This award-winning alternative artist is similar and ideal for fans of Adele, Florence + The Machine, Gotye, Lana Del Rey, Lykke Li and Owl Eyes.

Before Vows was officially released in the United States, North America fans had very few outlets to access her mesmerizing music besides YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and similar social media sharing websites. Since October 17, 2011, consumers have been able to purchase a digital version of Kimbra’s Settle Down EP or purchase the Vows import for around $20. On Record Store Day, a limited edition version of Settle Down was physically released (only 2500 copies distributed) on CD and I managed to purchase two copies thanks to Amoeba Music and Freakbeat Records.

Luckily, that Settle Down EP and seeing Kimbra live has held me over until I bought my multiple copies of Vows. Yes, I really did buy multiple copies including the Target Exclusive and regular edition CD. Additionally, as of right now I’m contemplating purchasing the iTunes Deluxe Edition, which contains three different tracks not available on the other editions, but I shall discuss that later.

My favorite Kimbra song, “Settle Down,” kicks off Vows in a sensational way. From the first few seconds, Kimbra captivates your soul with her sweet “Boom, ba-boom, ba’s” before bursting into the opening lyrics, “I wanna settle down/ I wanna settle down/ Won’t you settle down with me?”  This sarcastic song showcases the “starry eyed” idea women possess of marriage and having children before developing into mature adults that stems from childhood. Although it ridicules the idea of losing one’s independence by “settling down” without experiencing life, “Settle Down” encourages you to discover yourself before making significant life decisions. This infectious song persists with you long after and those “boom, ba-boom, ba’s” are so catchy you can’t help, but smile each time this song plays. “Settle Down” is undeniable one of the best songs of the year and one of my Top 10 Songs of 2012.

Besides “Settle Down,” Vows is highlighted by tracks “Cameo Lover,” “Two Way Street,” “Old Flame,” “Good Intent,” “Plain Gold Ring (live)” and “Warrior” on the standard edition CD, which contains 13 songs. For the 15 track Target exclusive, “Wandering Limbs” and the “Settle Down” (M-Phazes Remix) are the only two additions whereas the iTunes Deluxe contains “Call Me,” the original version of “Plain Gold Ring” and “Limbo” for a 16 track album. Depending on what best suits your taste, Kimbra fans have excellent multiple options to choose from.

The irresistible “Cameo Lovers” contains a catchy chorus “Cause everyday's like talking in your sleep/ Love is like a silhouette in dreams/ Open up your heart! Open up your heart/ Open up your heart and let me pull you out /Everyday's like talking in your sleep/ Love is like a silhouette in dreams/ Open up your heart! open up your heart/ Open up your heart and let me pull you out of here” that leaves you begging for more. The tempting tambourine vibrations, especially in the music video, make this ordinary “pop song” become epic and extraordinary.

The vulnerable stripped down “Two Way Street” showcases Kimbra’s sweet soulful side and demonstrates her astonishing lyrics. For Prince fans, “Old Flame” seems reminiscent of “The Beautiful Ones” and is pure bliss. Her eclectic appreciation of artists like Prince, Björk, Nina Simone and other music heroes are ever apparent throughout this album. What’s remarkable is how well this diverse group of influences seamlessly seem interwoven to create a signature sound that is distinctively Kimbra.

Even a cover of Nina Simone’s “Plain Gold Ring” resonates with a unique impact that blows you away, especially with the Sing Sing Studios version. The hypnotic bassline on “Good Intent” enhances the edgy lyrics to create an enticing, exciting highlight on Vows. Finally, I want to discuss one of the coolest collaborations released this year, “Warrior,” a song originally created for the Converse One Series with A-Trak and Mark Foster. “Warrior” is a song about standing strong with your convictions and not letting people deter you. The beats immediately feel like a Foster the People tune accompanied by Kimbra’s hypnotizing vocals with A-Trak’s awesome hooks. “Warrior” is an absolutely amazing and beautiful inspirational song that contains the perfect combination of Kimbra + Mark Foster + A-Trak. This mystical, mesmerizing track concludes a stellar debut destined to become the beginning chapter of an amazing artist. Vows is the best debut album of the year and Kimbra is THE artist to know for 2012!

--Mr Brownstone

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