In 2018, no other album dominated our listening habits as much as London-based singer-songwriter Tirzah's debut album Devotion. Having been instantly set out as one of this year's most anticipated albums, it naturally lives up to the hype and so much more.
Produced entirely by Mica Levi, Tirzah wraps her tender vocals up in Mica's blurry-edged beats that build upon the cornerstones of grime and RNB, yet exist entirely within their own practice. Devotion is a collection of downtempo love-songs laced with romance and lust, melancholy and desire, and while each one feels incredibly personal, its universal appeal just can't fail to capture both your ears and your heart.
Ever since her 'I'm Not Dancing' 12" landed on our doorstep back in 2013 (we imagine many people are still kicking themselves for sleeping on that one) and equally scarce on wax contributions to Mica Levi's DDS Taz And May Vids EP, plus a one-off Vinyl Factory collaboration with Mumdance, Mica and Warp's Nozinja, we've been waiting patiently for a proper full-length from the London based vocalist. Thankfully the wait is now over and within seconds of album opener 'Fine Again' hitting the air, we think you will agree that the wait was very much worthwhile.
Devotion splits itself across different strains and styles all held together by Tirzah and Mica's perfect, musical connection. From the quasi-garage pop hits 'Letting Go', 'Holding On', 'Basic Need' and 'Go Now', each one an instant firm favourite around here when we first heard them, the goosebump enabling earworm hooks and shuffling drum patterns of these tunes instantly quenched our endless first for more of that Taz And May Vids gold. Meanwhile, we step quietly into the Sunday morning slumber of 'Do You Know', 'Gladly' and 'Reach' where Mica's half tempo drum edits lay low on the living room floor while Tirzah spins us achingly delicate tales of lovelorn reflection, before some of Mica's most crowning piano notes fall onto 'Affection', 'Guilty', 'Say When' and the title cut 'Devotion', which features a wonderful cameo by Coby Sey. This final track is not only one of the album's finest and most addictive tracks but without a doubt the entire year's.
Devotion offers us an intimate collection of downtempo love-songs laced with romance and lust, melancholy and desire as experienced from a vocalist who really blurs the edges of grime, pop and RNB with a sweet yet street level edge. Along with her core crew of friends and collaborators (Mica, Coby Sey, Kwes and Brother May), Tirzah is quietly writing a new chapter within RNB; one that not only reads like but is surely the most irresistibly exceptional sounds on record right now.
We can't really compliment this one enough, but trust us when we say that Devotion is a properly present, future and an all-time classic album. This is music that once you fall under its spell, to live without it in your everyday existence just isn't an option... Album of the year and most possibly the entire decade... Devotion, consider us devoted, forever.