Jillian Banks, known as Banks, a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles has already made a name for herself in the music industry. With the release of eight EPs over the course of the last year including her top hit “Waiting Game,” the 26-year-old singer has been compared to big artists such as The Weeknd and Ellie Goulding, even opening for Abel himself during his The Fall tour in 2013. Since then, she has been recognized as a new and upcoming artist with award nominations from MTV and the BBC and various accolades from The Boston Globe and The Huffington Post.
With the September 9th release of Goddess, Banks is looking like she is here to stay. Her dynamic vocals range from sexy and smooth to beautifully haunting, allowing her to stamp this album with a sound that is completely her own, despite being a bit lyrically simple at certain points. With cool synths and deep baselines running alongside her cooing voice, Banks is able to draw the listener in with songs like “Warm Water.” With her shaky yet soothing falsetto, she sings, “I know we’ll go farther, farther with you, with you I’m in warm water swimming down,” leaving much to the imagination. She continues her lusty (and interpretive) lullabies with “Stick,” a song that could be interpreted in myriad ways. Banks puts her Siren-like voice on display in “Drowning,” a song about being dragged down in an emotionally abusive relationship. Through the almost excruciatingly slow start, you can physically feel the pain in her lyrics as the chorus drops into a powerful symphony of synthesizers that makes your heart wrench. Some other highlights of the album include “Begging For Thread” and “This Is What It Feels Like,” the latter being my personal favorite out of the songs that were not released as EPs prior to Goddess.
Being her debut album, however, Goddess is not without flaws. On some songs, such as “Under The Table” and “Someone New,” Banks croons her lovelorn lyrics on top of beautiful guitar and piano chords, but with little elegance. Like a line taken straight from her high school diary and awkwardly squeezed into a four-line stanza, Banks sings in “Change,” “Call me out, you would say I need attention, just because I put on makeup, to ironically look good for you.” Though sometimes her lyrics are a bit ambiguous or just plain odd, Banks presents them in a way that almost any lover who has ever experienced a tumultuous relationship can relate to. Banks’s dark harmonies matched with her enigmatic persona shrouded her in mystery when she first appeared on the music scene. After the release of Goddess and a North American tour that began this month, the young singer-songwriter is more exposed than ever and well on her way to the top.
For listeners who like: R&B, electronic, alternative pop
For listeners who also listen to: FKA twigs, James Blake, The Weeknd, MØ