Kimbra Exposes Her Vows

By Sitha Kentane

New Zealand born Kimbra Lee Johnson is set to change the music scene with her debut album Vows. The 20-year-old artist who is widely known for her feature on Goyte?s Somebody I used to know, comes with a jazz infused new age pop not heard of in today?s, or even yesterdays musos creations. This clearly comes through in all of the Vows featured songs; some produced and co-written by Australian film composer Francois Tetaz. She also worked with Australian hip hop producer M-phazes who has previously worked with Gotye. After being snatched by Warner Music group, America got a taste of a revised Vows with a few sons added for the US release of the album. A listener with a traditional ear will not enjoy her unconventional resonance.

As soon as the first track, Settle Down begins, the a cappella  ?boom pa boom pa? sounds static voices. The song, where she asks to settle down with a significant other and have a child named ?Nebraska? sets the tone. The song then transcends into a dance infused pop filled hook. Overlapping vocals and hand claps are a secondary dominance to her voice over the song. The music video to the song showcases her musical and stylistic talent with a not so clear storyline. This is also evident in her writing and poetry like verses.

Two Way Street, a plead for her love to be reciprocated is introduced with a soft vocal and tambourine, Transcending into a higher pitched filled with hope and a harmonizing effect. Her poetic talent is seen greatly in this number with the metaphor ?love is a two way street?. Harmonised humming?s end off the song in a soft overlapping of vocals accompanied with shake sounding instrumentals leave the listener hanging onto a thread of positivity.

Old Flame, a departure from the dance and up beat instrumentals of her other songs appreciates the harmonies of the many voices heard in the song. This is indeed a love song, but with a twist. The out of the ordinary beats are encapsulating; making one listen to the lyrics accompanying the beat. This time the vocals give off a soulfulness that is carried into other songs on her album. The song crescendos into what sounds like a choir of voices in sync while belting ?can you feel the burning still.?

The soft, ballad sounding soulfulness can be heard in Withdraw and Wandering limbs where she collaborated with musician Sam Lawrence, who has worked with Indi folk-noir band Manny Fox Hangman?s Band. Sam And Kimbra make a great collaboration as both of their voices are smooth and jazzy. The slow piano and warm 20s vinyl sound introduction glides into Kimbra?s bluezy huskiness of a sound. Sam joins with a give and take from Kimbra?s voice. This is one song where the pitch remains alike in most of the song. It can be compared to dancing through a park and have every word come through the body shapes.

The album cannot be given a genre and one ?cant realty put a label on it?, as online celeb gossip veteran Perez Hilton puts it. A generalization of the songs on the album is not possible. Her voice has a distinct sound but her music sound varies. No one song resembles another. This is what sets her apart form other artists. After listening to Vows, a fusion of dance, harmonizing, clapping of hands, riveting beatings of drums, shaking of tambourines and trumpet soundings, it is almost impossible not to be hooked.  The mixture of different sounds allows one to let the sound in and dance in awkward movements simultaneously, like Kimbra does.


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