One of the most fascinating debuts of the year. This is “Devotion” by Tirzah, a rising star in the London scene who has joined the Domino label. Her childhood friend Micachu (born Mica Levi, leader of Micachu And The Shapes and author of various, amazing soundtracks) is already a cult-star, helping her to compose and produce the eleven tracks in the album with the DIY spirit. The two studied harp and viola in school, before starting to channel the piece that has triggered everything, “Go Now“, now reworked and updated for the present day.
Tirzah’s songs sound modern and urban, extraordinarily full of empathy and intimacy. It is thanks to a long apprenticeship in the post-grime circuits, dubstep and garage UK: experience featuring on the microphone for the likes of Tricky or SBTRKT, showing a pure connection to the roots. The Essex-born songwriter recorded most of the material in the shared homes and improvised studios of her artsy collective in South London, taking all the time necessary, letting her experience decant. She is shy and loyal to her tribe, but courageous in revealing herself vulnerable, a universal vulnerability made of lightning and sparks striking a serene heart.
It goes back to that old mantra, “less is more”: and there’s the secret! In Tirzah, there is very little to trigger the listener’s emotional vibrations, in a minimal mix of soul-pop melodies and electronic experiments (and sporadic 80s references), not too far from the early Martina Topley-Bird or the latest from The XX. Sample and hoppy beat trip that hypnotize (but every now and again there’s the tinkling of a piano, hints of drums or electric guitars) and the silky voice of sensitivity that melts all resistance. At the centre of those few spoken truths is the human being, with inner contradictions that animate the feelings: “I just think you’re going to know” (“I’m here for you“) “I would call you” (“Do You Know“), “All I want is you“(“Gladly“, video directed by Hannah Perry), “But most of all I want your comfort” (the same “Devotion“, with Coby Sey). It’s a British R & B with gently accelerated heartbeats. A shout out to the endangered romantics out there.