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The Golden Echo (Deluxe Version)

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Customer Reviews

Re-invention

Kimbra has really changed direction from what I’ve heard so far and I’m really loving it!

Kimbra + Second Studio Album = Success

I absolutely loved her first album Vows. I've been waiting patiently for her second album, and it's finally coming. I can't wait. All her music sounds excellent!

Hope This Echo Keeps Ringing

Kimbra’s debut album “Vows” displayed an interesting hodgepodge of jazz inflected indie pop, electro pop, and R&B, while showcasing her incredible and versatile vocal talent as well as her mature and poignant songwriting. Hard to believe that these songs were in the makes from age 16-20 as there was such a great display of maturity in her artistic vision as well as her performance. This led to her winning many awards in Australia, her native New Zealand, and even at the Grammy’s for her joint effort with Gotye “Somebody I Used to Know”.

Clearly all of this success cultivated lots of anticipation for her sophomore studio effort, and this was translated into the grand ambition that can be heard throughout this ride of a record. This includes the mountain of instrumentation, production, and endless list of collaborators and guest spots (some of which not even making the record, seeing as 70 songs were cut down to 12).

“The Golden Echo” really works as a whole, most notably because of the segues that lead the end of one song into the start of an other. This helps seal each song together as a package and narrative ride, rather than a sequence of songs that play after each other. This includes giggling children, a spiraling haze fading into chanting and pickaxes, strings rising before a broken record skips, a laughing frenzy swirls down before abruptly stopping at a clap, and a fuzzy piano softly playing out. The use of segues was somewhat present on “Vows” (siren sings atop acapella horns after “Old Flame” and “Posse” ends with a remixed “Settle Down”), but on “The Golden Echo” so much more consideration and time was spent making these songs seamlessly blend into one long experience.

As for the guest spots from collaborators (a list that goes on and on), it never feels like a group party. Kimbra is ever in the front seat wearing the conductor’s hat, and everything about these songs centres around her voice, lyrics, and artistic vision without distraction.

This record is a bit of a departure from “Vows”. It abandons the jazz influences and really amps up the R&B and Electronic ones, with more emphasis on rhythm. This isn’t to say this is a throwback retro album, Kimbra isn’t weighed down or washed out by her influences. “The Golden Echo” is a look back to the past that is then filtered, redesigned, and experimented with until it becomes something completely of Kimbra’s own. It’s a shame that the joint tour with future funk partner in crime Janelle Monae was cancelled seeing as their music would resonate so well together.

Most songs include vocal processing of some form or another (via her Voice Live Touch), resulting in deep bass, robotic harmonies, and gritty textures. Vocal layering is utilized quite frequently to create large choral explosions (building on this from ”Vows” tracks like “Sally I Can See You”, and “Home”).

The record starts with the pitter-patter of drums overtop glowing organs on “Teen Heat”. Kimbra whispering almost as if this is a lullaby, displaying a great sense of innocence and intimacy before the Prince-like chorus explodes into a grand euphoric “I don’t want to die without knowing what it’s like to touch you”. This innocence moves into reflection on the nostalgia of youth and love in the chaotic frenzy of “90’s Music”, which incorporates trap beats and 808’s underneath high-pitched vocal harmonies and scratchy guitars preceding a throbbing synth chorus. “Carolina” is a shiny stunner; with spiraling synths cascading across bass vocal hums under swooning high vocals, and processed layered harmonies. “Goldmine” flaunts a pickaxe beat and chanting that would feel at home on Kanye West album, with a chorus reminiscent of chanting slaves gleaning for inner hope. Alien like vocals perform a “horn section” impression on the bridge of groovy future funk disco track “Miracle”. “Rescue Him” showcases a darker R&B vibe with Kimbra whispering of saving her lover from his ways. A cascading bass groove underlines schizophrenic vocals on “Madhouse” continuing the darker vibe and harkens 80’s era Michael Jackson. “Everlovin’ Ya” featuring Bilal is a trippy, gritty, electro duet. “As You Are” is an absolutely stunning piano ballad that builds with lush strings (courtesy of Van Dyke Parks) and vocal arrangements, until the climax “Come, a little to the right, get comfortable,” which simultaneously sounds inviting and disconcerting. There is almost a comfort to the danger. On “Love In High Places” Kimbra’s voice waves and flutters over jittering percussion and glowing synths before building into an explosive vocal climax, followed by insane psychedelic bass guitar wailing (courtesy of virtuoso bassist extraordinaire Thundercat). “Nobody But You” is a sunny, feel good love song, before ending with a clapping future funk jam. Closer “Waltz Me To The Grave” is slightly psychedelic, yet slightly groovy, and parts with the world (and the album) on high note, swaying and dancing off the earth being left behind without remorse or dread.

The deluxe edition bonus tracks feature the stuttering beat and staccato vocals of “Slum Love” before a breezy chorus. Absolute gem “Sugar Lies” plays out like a whacked song for an old school Disney movie (perfect for Alice and Wonderland), sweet sing-a-long back up vocals and whistling are juxtaposed with booming bass synths before completely falling apart for the delirious acapella breakdown of the bridge. And the dizzy swirling “The Magic Hour” teeters back and forth in a sense of introspective surreality, harkening the title.

“The Golden Echo” is the work of an artist who places exploration and experimentation first, while still keeping it grounded as pop music. The ambition is well executed, and while calling back the past, it’s echoed in a completely different and captivating way.

Biography

Born: March 27, 1990 in Hamilton, New Zealand

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '10s

Though New Zealand pop singer Kimbra released an award-winning debut album with 2011's Vows, it was her cameo on Gotye's smash hit "Somebody That I Used to Know" that won her global fame. She then used that acclaim to make some of the most audacious and playful fusions of jazzy R&B, pop, and dance in the 2010s. Born Kimbra Johnson in Hamilton, New Zealand, Kimbra began taking guitar lessons around age 12 and was performing live by her teens. A 2007 Juice TV video award caught the attention of...
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The Golden Echo (Deluxe Version), Kimbra
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