Tuesday 31 July 2012

Delilah - From The Roots Up

The title to Delilah's debut album is fitting.  The roots of her music are in old R&B, dance and disco tracks, but her sound has a thoroughly modern twist with its experimental production.  Her debut single Go epitomised this, marrying the lyrics of Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody to a slow, soft dubstep beat.  Other tracks continue this theme - recent single Love You So is a reworking of Finley Quaye's Even After All; whilst Inside My Love is a cover of Minnie Ripperton's 1975 track, the smooth funk of the original switched for haunting minimalism as Delilah sings breathlessly "will you come inside me".  It's incredibly sexy.

These covers are the album's highlights for their inventive, urban production - trip-hop inflected beats, deep bass rumblings, and cold synth washes.  In addition, Delilah's original material is more than capable of sitting alongside the covers.  On the previously released Breathe, her breathy vocal perfectly matches the repeated chorus of "I cannot breathe", evocative of a stifling relationship.  So Irate conflicts with its title - more restrained anger that never fully explodes but grows with increasing intensity, all pounding drums and dampened guitar lines.  Insecure is another standout track, the sinewy chromaticism of the opening solo piano line reflecting her insecurities laid bare.

The softer ballads feel a little dull by comparison.  Only You and Shades of Grey focus on piano and orchestral instruments and lack the exciting intensity of the other tracks.  Album closer Tabitha, Mummy and Me strips back the production to just piano and voice - it proves Delilah can write a decent song beneath all the technical wizardry, but the warm jazz harmonies feel strangely empty against the album's cold electronica.

It's Delilah's emotive vocal that stays consistent throughout.  The soulful sound of Never Be Another changes to breathlessness on Breathe, floats with ease and grace on Shades of Grey and evokes quiet intensity on Go and So Irate, continuously telling the story of each song.  What she holds back in power she gains in emotion, her voice cracking with aching character.

With two hundred songs recorded for 'From the Roots Up' and only twelve making the final selection, there's clearly plenty more to come from this rising star.  This is an album that creeps up on you in the dark before striking an intense blow to your musical core.


Gizzle's Choice:

* Go
* So Irate
* Insecure

Listen: 'From the Roots Up' is available now.

Watch: Delilah will be touring during the Autumn.

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