At SXSW this past March, bright-eyed and dark haired New Zealand export Kimbra captivated audiences at various shows around the festival — most notably The Spotify House, at which she performed an innovative rendition of her breakout single, “Settle Down.” Despite not adapting the deranged feel from the video, Kimbra incorporated a sampler and loops and recreated the beat with her mouth, illustrating one of the reasons she is one of the most interesting up-and-coming artists emerging now.
Kimbra is a “newbie” on the scene but not completely unfamiliar. The singer played the object of Gotye’s affection on “Somebody That I Used To Know,” and the video for her breakout single “Settle Down,” where a deranged teenaged girl desires a guy who isn’t necessarily a human, has been added to the rotation at VH1’s Morning Buzz.
The original, UK version of Kimbra’s Vows album had fewer songs, but the updated version made its US debut in May with six previously unreleased songs, six new songs and some live versions courtesy of Vows: Australian Tour Edition. The end result is an almost flawless, genre-bending debut album exploring relationship topics such as infatuation, lust and love while also showing Kimbra’s powerhouse vocal stylings and her vulnerability and sincerity.
The lyrics on Vows walk the line on being a “single white female” thinking about a future with someone who doesn’t necessarily match your infatuation, a sentiment shown on the album’s opening song, “Settle Down.” Kimbra sings of her interest in a guy and, as the title alludes, essentially wanting to settle down with him. Realistically, the song and video are a little crazy, but when you listen to the lyrics you can’t help but feel both a little sorry for her and optimistic that her love interest will hear the song and fall madly in love.
“Settle Down” is followed by the R&B-driven “Something in The Way You Are,” which sees Kimbra speaking to the subject of her deep infatuation, saying, “I’m wondering about your childhood. Wonder if you’ve been misunderstood. I’m watching you inside your head. I wonder if you know how long I can. And I can feel it in my bones, I love all the sticks and stones and every little word you say, you’re breaking me in the best way.”
For “Posse,” Kimbra takes on an almost hip-hop vibe as she claims she’s not trying to be in a posse and has her own ideals and interests, while “Call Me” has a soulful vibe and instrumentation that would sound amazing live. Kimbra’s vocals are perfect as she sings, “When will we talk on a Saturday? You’re always hurrying to get somewhere striking all your poses you think I don’t notice that you’re everywhere? Can I hold my hand out, make you mine forever, all the money I can spend looking out for you let me take you out where you want to.”
Vows also features pop-infused tracks like its second single, “Cameo Lover,” which has a cheeky and fun vibe, but can be a little annoying. “Cameo Lover” is followed by “Two Way Street,” in which Kimbra sings about love requiring two people coming together to make the union work.
With her debut album, Kimbra shows exactly why she’s been selling out shows from the pond to the States: she’s extremely talented, soulful, and lovable. Despite missing some of the tracks from the UK version like “Wandering Limbs,” the new material like “Come Into My Head,” “Sally I Can See You” and “Something In The Way You Are” essentially add to the quality of the album and existing material. Also, Kimbra’s cover of Nina Simone’s “Plain Gold Ring” makes for an interesting rendetion. Great, great album and a shining introduction to Kimbra — my new favorite singer.