I recently covered Kendra Morris as part of my overview of artists I'm tipping for big things in 2014, 2014 Hype. Much like East India Youth, Morris is another artist getting things out early in the year, with her album Banshee set for release next Monday.
Banshee is a break-up record, these songs crafted in the period that followed Morris' break-up as, in her words, “it’s just so much easier to put a feeling to a note”. The result is a record that takes in a little funk, a little soul and a little blues. There is a clear hip-hop influence here, both in terms of the slight cut-and-paste feel of production that permeates the album and in some of the subject matter - lead single Concrete Wave dealing with the risk / reward thrill of skateboarding, for example.
Morris' vocal delivery is difficult to argue with - the frequent use of overdubbing means it is a somewhat brassy execution, yet it suits the songs themselves well. On the whole this a set of bold and assertive pieces, tracks like Spitting Teeth holding no punches in portraying Morris as a lady who is prepared to get her hands dirty.
Which isn't to say Morris doesn't have a voice - the more soulful tracks where the instrumentation taks a half-step back allow her to open up. These turn out to be some of Banshee's most memorable moments - If You Didn't Go's resignated acceptance feels personal in a way some of the other tracks here can't. Similarly, Here switches between hurt Rhodes based gospel blues to emphatic and pleading big soul choruses. It is the best of both worlds, the space letting the verses breath before all that power is unleashed, and marks the album's standout moment.
Banshee is an intricately produced album - almost to the extent that the production gets in the way and feels a little too much. But there is no denying that Morris knows a tune, and all that production work certainly lends proceedings some energy - I wouldn't want to be Morris' next love, because if they step out of line Banshee just might kick their ass.