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The Visitor

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Album Review

This is the debut from Kadhja Bonet, a classification-evasive singer and songwriter from Los Angeles who plays guitar, strings, and flute. Prior to this mini-album version given wide release through Fat Possum with support from Fresh Selects, it was available in six-track and ten-track editions, the latter of which added some material previously uploaded to Bonet's Soundcloud page. This iteration, just short of 30 minutes in length, makes for a concise and complete first statement from an artist whose approach invites scores of comparisons to a number of folk variants, starting with chamber-soul collective Rotary Connection's less-ornamented moments and the quieter aspects of British groups like Pentangle and Fairport Convention. An almost thunderous intro excepted, each song on The Visitor unfurls in deliberate fashion with each note played like a caress. They're lullabies when played at a low volume. Bonet's core support comes from multi-instrumentalist Itai Shapira and drummer Te'amir Yohannes Sweeney, and a handful of associates contributes additional saxophone, flute, strings, and keyboards. They all seem to take cues from the silver voice of Bonet, which weaves fantastical tales involving "gowns of gossamer," "clouds of cirrus," and "blossoms peaking with borrowed comfort sipped from bottles made of glass." Each line is sung with a sense of awe and adventure. Bonet belies her age by recasting two songs from 1976. Milton Nascimento's "Francesco" gets a lavish update, while bassist Jaco Pastorius' solo instrumental "Portrait of Tracy" receives similar coloring with appropriately lovesick lyrics written to the melody ("Each fork I chose led away from you"). Though The Visitor is distinctive, other recordings featuring Shapira, as well as those by the likes of Marques Toliver, Moses Sumney, Deradoorian, and Hiatus Kaiyote, are somewhere in the same contemporary realm. For all the fanciful imagery and vintage inspirations, The Visitor sounds like it belongs in the present as much as it does in the past and future.

Biography

Born: Los Angeles, CA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '10s

With her beguiling, airy voice and robust blend of cosmic jazz, R&B, folk, and classical, singer/songwriter Kadhja Bonet has quietly made waves in the Los Angeles underground. A multi-instrumentalist with a background in classical violin, she began collaborating with L.A. producer Itai Shapira, resulting in her soulful debut single "Tears for Lamont" in 2014. Later that year Bonet participated in the Red Bull Music Academy program in Tokyo, working with German producer RJ and Australian producer...
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The Visitor, Kadhja Bonet
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