Josiah Wise aka serpentwithfeet grew up in Baltimore, and church was the source of his earliest influences. He attended college in Philadelphia and studied classical music, and in 2013, after some time spent in Paris, he settled in New York. In between working odd jobs and constantly having to work out living arrangements, Wise continued recording original material, and the effort frutioned to a 2016 EP entitled Blisters, a breakout moment for the singer. Two years later, Wise presents Soil, an exciting fusion of r&b, avant-garde pop, gospel, and classical. The beautifully textured 11-tracker features Clams Casino, Boston producer mmph, and Adele-collaborator Paul Epworth, as well as Katie Gately on production, and the beats lean heavily toward the experimental, with sparse rhythms and tense, drama-filled notes setting the mood. It is, however, Wise's wailing vocals that lead the charge, ever so expressive, dynamic and quasi-religious in feel; it's easy to see why Bjork is a fan, and the two have worked on music together (Ty Dolla Sign has also showed much love). Listening to tracks like "cherubim," "bless ur heart," "seedless," and "whisper" conjures up complex emotions, and to borrow the words of the aforementioned Icelandic singer, Soil is a "moist and vibrant" body of work that's as much a devotional as it is a conversation about love, intimacy, insecurities, fear, and identity.
- opaque yellow vinyl
- music label: Secretly Canadian 2018
reviewed by rei kwondo 06/18
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