Published Aug 08, 2018Tirzah is right here, and yet, she isn't — not quite. Leaning toward us, on the cover art for her debut album, little is clearly defined: hair obscures, head blurs in motion. Just like in her music, Tirzah is unplaceable, yet wholly unmistakeable.
Devotion offers a new airspace of sound. While not dance music as we might think of it, these spacious tracks are built upon the instincts of dance: coming together, turning the individual to the collective, finding release. Their radical simplicity is in shrinking these feelings to a personal scale, choreographing a rich internal life, as shared and lived with others.
This spirit of sharing is central to Devotion. Music and production are managed by composer Mica Levi, a childhood friend of Tirzah, perhaps best known for her stark film scores for Jackie and Under the Skin. Levi expertly scaffolds a roomy sonic arena, built from ample static and white space.
Into this arena comes Tirzah. Rather than belt or belabour, she sings as if to herself: mumbled words fall out, just barely sung. "Fine Again" scatters her skeletal voice in echoes: "I just want you to know I'm here for you." Elsewhere, album highlight "Go Now" begins with isolated vocals and a dry drum beat, before expressing serious bite: "Don't raise your voice to me / Thinking you've been fucking with me." For all the internal nuance of the record, Devotion is primarily an album built on the invisible ties between us, shifting between shades of love, rupture and unsteady silence.
In the sparseness of its haze, Devotion feels ephemeral, like a photo taken at golden hour that's just starting to fade. Again, Tirzah is here, but not quite. Constantly in motion, we can only wonder where she'll go next. (Domino)