serpentwithfeet – soil
It’s his debut album, but experimental New York pop artist serpentwithfeet has a long musical history.
A former church choir singer, a jazz vocalist in different combos throughout the years and a classically trained singer, he brings a lot of technical talent to the table. But it’s more than technical talent that makes soil such a captivating debut.
I wanted to make sure I used the perfect word for what I'm trying to say.serpentwithfeet — Double J, 2018
Looped vocals show off the breadth of serpent’s immense skills, often serving as soundscapes lying beneath his leading vocal line.
These aren’t always typical vocal sounds; serpent used his time in the studio to experiment with his voice and push himself to new levels.
“This past couple of years has just been me really pushing myself to see what I can do vocally,” serpentwithfeet told Double J’s Tim Shiel early this month.
“What story am I trying to tell? What service am I providing to people? Just seeing how far I can push.
“There are sounds from me on this album that I didn't have on the EP and I'm still finding things that will be on the next album. That's important to me.
“I've done the training, I've sung in churches, but now what can I do?
"Now I have all these resources. I have all these tools that are in my body. It's like I ate all the Thanksgiving turkey, all the chickens, and now I have to metabolise it. I'm in my metabolism period. I'm really excited by it.”
Emotionally the record is profound and open.
‘You can place your burden on my chest,’ serpent sings in opening track ‘whisper’. ‘The best parts of you lie at the bottom of you. I love you from the space beneath my feet, and beneath that. My love for you burns so deep’.
It’s also incredibly direct. Refreshingly so. Rather than obscure his emotions in convoluted metaphors and wordy diversions that dance around the song’s emotional core, serpent has made a distinct effort to get straight to it.
“I spent a lot of time working and reworking lyrics because I wanted it to feel immediate,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I used the perfect word for what I'm trying to say. 'Is this the perfect phrase?'
“It needed to feel that it was aiding the story and not just something flashy. I needed that immediacy for this album, so I spent a lot of time on that.”
This is the modern sound of soul and R&B. An experimental approach that stays true to some of the recognisable aspects of the genre but pushes it into new places. An expressive piece of music that gives an insight to a thoughtful mind and an innovative new artist.