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Naima Bock's debut Giant Palm is filled with eclecticism and emotion

"Giant Palm"

Release date: 01 July 2022
Naima bock giant palm art
30 June 2022, 08:30 Written by John Amen
Through drawing from Brazilian standards and European folk traditions – as well as an assortment of music absorbed during her years in London – Naima Bock has crafted Giant Palm.

Bock’s melodies and lyrics are frequently engaging, though what stand out are her entrancing vocal deliveries. The result is a project as instrumentally oriented as it is song-focused, each track enriched by contributions from a host of supportive musicians.

Opening with the titular track – an acoustic guitar anchoring Bock’s crystalline voice – Bock demonstrates her vocal range, moving from lower to higher pitches effortlessly. On “Toll,” she is complemented by a mélange of acoustic psychedelia, folktronic references, and space-y Brit pop, including Alex McKenzie’s textural flute part (think Pink Floyd’s Meddle meets Tunng circa Comments of the Inner Chorus meets Tender Buttons-era Broadcast).

“Every Morning” shows Bock processing grief and seemingly arriving at a vague equanimity, as her voice transitions seamlessly between earthy verses and celestial choruses while producer Joel Burton’s whistle solo mid-way conjures a summery feel. The closing of “Dim Dum” showcases an exquisite mix of violins and sax while the reverb-y/alt-folk vibe of “Working,” replete with sustained string sounds, recalls the avant-garde stylings of Aldous Harding’s early work. Instrumentation grows in complexity, even as it remains contained, eschewing what could easily evolve/devolve into a free-jazz bacchanal.

“Campervan” opens with Cassidy Hansen’s spry drum part, an understated mix of strings and horns joining as the piece unfolds. One can almost hear a jazz-prompted semi-ambient venture here, perhaps a collaboration between a buoyant William Basinski and a dreamy Adrianne Lenker. When Bock joins vocally, a piano offers resonant accents as drums grow brushy, the piece featuring subtle instrumental interplays and juxtapositions.

Giant Palm’s sonic emphasis is further emphasized by “Instrumental,” which revolves around acoustic guitars, piano, drums, and background conversational fragments, as well as an eloquent tenor sax part by Meitar Wegman. The track unfolds melodically and spaciously, conjuring a sober one-off helmed by Claire Rousay and Nala Sinephro (with a bonus appearance by Nubya Garcia). The piece closes with the Portuguese-sung “O Morro,” Bock’s voice dancing alongside the trebly guitar licks.

Giant Palm is a chic and compelling sequence of songs and compositions, each track coloured by Bock’s affinity for international folk, pop, and jazz playbooks. Burton’s contributions as arranger and producer are, again, considerable. Brimming with eclecticism and highlighting Bock’s emotional range, Giant Palm is a stellar debut and one of 2022’s more distinct releases.

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