Why do love songs still appeal to us so strongly? Perhaps it has to do with their continued relevance to our personal experience. Tirzah’s long-anticipated debut album Devotion is a perfect, affecting example; an album so intimately hers, it’s as if you are peering around the door as her life plays out before you.
Devotion was made with Tirzah’s long-time collaborator and friend, Mica Levi. Known for her menacing, off-kilter pop with Micachu And The Shapes, and her experimental film scores for films such as “Under The Skin” and “Jackie”, Micachu’s productions turn down the dial for an album of sincere, patchwork pop – experimental, stripped-back landscapes for Tirzah to wander freely.
Tirzah’s voice is honest, understated, and in no way perfect, but that is the beauty of it. The rawness of her voice ties in perfectly with her frank depictions of love that you find within her lyrics. There’s no flamboyant poetry or wordplay, Tirzah describes her feelings within her songs as if she were talking with a friend – and the more that you listen, the more you feel like that friend; her shoulder to cry on. Like any intimate relationship, this is a two-way thing, as she sings on the album’s delicate opener, “Fine Again”:
“This feels so pure /This feels right / I just want you to know that I’m here for you / You make me stronger so I’m here to catch you.”
“Do You Know” is the first example of Micachu’s abstract production found throughout the album. Its hypnotic twang is set against a sparse beat; a jagged rhythm for Tirzah to try and smooth over with her voice. “Gladly” finds Tirzah interjecting her feelings between a rolling piano riff, a haunting love song that trickles down the windowpane as you peer through the droplets racing down the glass.
Each emotion is laid bare for all to see on “Affection”, “Guilty” and “Devotion” – cutting through the rose-tinted view of romance, and revealing it for what it truly is; amazing, laborious, and heartbreaking. “Guilty” is Tirzah’s very own 808s & Heartbreak moment. Drenched in autotune, the grinding guitar riff and spiralling notes create a distorted admission of guilt. With her voice masked by the effects, is her apology truly sincere?
Conversely, “Go Now” is an all-out R&B hit, with Tirzah showing off her fiercer side, rarely found in any other track. If Aaliyah grew up ‘south-of-the-river’, she might sound a little like this.
Devotion is an album that cuts through the filters that we often put on our lives. We’re conditioned to believe that everything has to be polished and perfected, before it can be considered to be finished. But in reality, sometimes the things that are created in the moment hit us the hardest. Tirzah has made 11 raw, honest, and beautifully unusual pop songs that will remain with you whether you like it or not, bringing you back time and time again, motivated by your devotion to this record.