January 4th, 2010 11:04am
It Rocks Me Like A Lullabye
I don’t know much about Merrill Garbus’ life, but I feel like I know a lot about her voice, which might be a separate thing. Garbus sings like a person who, at some point in the not-too-distant past, stopped caring about holding herself back. “Powa” starts off sorta gentle and demure, but as it progresses, there’s a clear physicality to her vocals — a startling, defiant swagger. Unlike a lot of “swagger” you hear in modern pop music, it’s not a put-on or thinly veiled insecurity. It doesn’t sound like control or a desire to be controlling either. It’s more about self-possession, and making a clear decision to be exactly who you are and go for what you want, and take what you deserve after years of feeling unworthy. “Powa” is a song about sex, and it feels triumphant and glorious, like a long-earned reward. There’s still conflict and angst, but it all disappears in moments of pure pleasure, as when Garbus’ voice shoots up into into high notes, yanking us up with her into her giddy stratosphere. You feel her pleasure along with her, but you know that it’s an abstraction. If you really want it, you’ve got to get it for yourself. You’ve got to be more like Merrill.
Watch the Tune-Yards 4AD session.