Album hashtag: #femaleprincevocal
The first time I heard Kimbra was on her Grammy-winning single “Somebody That I Used To Know” with Gotye. Not only did I immediately get Prince vibes from her, but I actually thought some of her music was better than the legendary pop singer. ‘The Golden Echo’ proves my previous premonition about Kimbra plus much more. On her sophomore album, the New Zealand singer-songwriter delivers a solid, quality set that sounds way more innovative than her international counterpart Lorde. With her growth between her debut shining brightly, ‘Echo’ demystifies the superstition surrounding the #sophomoreslump completely.
The album’s first single comes as an ode to my favorite era – “90s Music”. If the title isn’t iconic enough, her incredibly catchy “MJ and Mariah / Nirvana and Aaliyah / R. Kelly and Mary Blige / TLC and Left Eye” hook should reel you in. As a lead single on a sophomore album, “90s Music” was a risk that paid off in her favor. Second single “Miracle” didn’t perform quite as well, but it did earn the star her very first solo advertising opportunity with Mary Kay. Standout “Nobody But You” co-written with John Legend is in talks to be the third single, which would surely draw in urban listeners with its instant R&B feel.
Towards the end of ‘Echo’ is a three-song sickening sequence of sex ballads that comes off equal parts unexpected and brilliant. “Everlovin’ Ya” with Bilal is a sultry soul song that kinds the two singers playfully trading verses about a love that’s forever. “As You Are” is a strangely beautiful ballad about a love that goes wrong time and time again. Kimbra sounds especially poetic as she sings the hook “cause honey that hourglass got me thinkin’ / you ain’t no friend of mine / we were movin’ so fast and the sand was sinkin’ / why not keep chasin’ time”. Despite the theme of songwriting excellence surrounding the album, “Love In High Places” does just that and more. Kimbra’s “High” is a slow-burning, funky groove with enough Prince vibes to last you a lifetime. This trio segment within the album stands as possibly the best group of songs released all year.
When it comes to providing an exceptional vocal over soulful songwriting, Kimbra’s ‘Echo’ stands far above many female artists on the charts and radio today. The album closer “Waltz Me To The Grave” is a haunting song that talks about death in the most danceworthy way possible. Kimbra’s voice literally brings each song to life on ‘Echo’, while the live performances up the ante in terms of artistry. There’s no other artist that can bring what Kimbra did on ‘The Golden Echo’, which gave her a great edge over her predecessors throughout 2014 and beyond.