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album review: kimbra, vows

The boys from Evermore, Russell Crowe, Phar Lap… Kimbra shall surely be the next in a proud line of talents in whom Australians will develop a strong national pride – despite the fact that she’s actually from New Zealand. But hey, let’s not be getting caught up in mere details.

Vows is Kimbra’s debut album, not that you’d be able to tell it. Likened to Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine, she has a vocal presence that is bold, mature and fiery – not something that you’d necessarily expect from a 21-year-old.

Snippets of pop, indie, jazz and soul create an exciting eclectica of musical influences. While there is perhaps nothing here that is pushing the musical envelope, there is something to be said for being able to successfully pay homage to genres of the past, while avoiding sounding like a cover band.

Perhaps the most readily lovable track of the album is ‘Cameo Lover’. With a chronically catchy chorus, this will be one that makes itself comfortable in your short-term memory and gives you (and your beleaguered neighbours, victims of your too loud stereo and ‘repeat’ button) no peace. It shall also hereby be awarded the inaugural “Franz Ferdinand ‘Take Me Out’” Award for song that appears to be going in one direction, then does a one-eighty. While the opening verse is pleasant enough, when the chorus comes along, it really amps up a notch. The mood then calms down for the next verse and so on.

This push/pull contrast is one of Kimbra’s strong points. There is always a risk (with all music of course, but seemingly especially with pop) of falling into a lifeless lack of variation. While there is a definite ‘sound’ to this record that might make some of the songs blur together a little, Kimbra’s impressive vocals are enough to pull it through. She uses her voice like an instrument, playing with the possibilities of high/low, loud/soft, staccato/legato.

In a world of LPs that barely reach a half hour, Vows effortlessly clocks in at fifty minutes. We can only assume that this outpouring of musical expression is the sign of much more to come from this talented lady.

If you were unlucky enough to miss out on her tour a few months ago, you can see Kimbra early next year at the Big Day Out.

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