The first single from DC Metro area singer/songwriter Kirbie’s new album Melon Soup, “Human”, is an intensely soulful and intelligent bit of songwriting. Kirbie has honed her skills over the last near decade and she’s reaping the fruits of that work with a singular style and songwriting point of view quite unlike anyone else working in the same area today. The production duties are flawlessly executed and her music is best described as an invigorating synthesis of different styles like jazz, R&B, and soul leanings with exceptional lyrics. She’s, likewise, an exceptional vocalist whose talents for phrasing and getting under the skin of her listeners are quite formidable. “Human” is an excellent example of her songwriting and musical range that never strikes a false note and glides along with an effortlessness that smacks much more of a veteran talent than someone still relatively new to recording and performing. Kirbie emerges from this song as a fully formed talent with a world of possibilities at her feet.
She explores those possibilities, first and foremost, with her voice. It’s a marvelous instrument that, based on this song alone, seems capable of tackling any style or subject matter and making it work for her. There’s a gentle swing to her vocals that nicely matches up with the arrangement. The musical dance she achieves with the keyboards and drums is particularly notable and they create a triad-based dialogue of musical counterpoint that gives “Human” a remarkably well-rounded and seamless quality. She excels, perhaps more so than any other one quality, with phrasing. The lyrics for this song are quite good, but she realizes their potential in a way that no one simply reading the words would ever expect. Her voice drops away at the right moments, rises at other critical points, and maintains a consistency of mood and approach throughout that raises the song another few pegs. It’s a model for how to inhabit this sort of song scape that even veteran performers would be wise to follow and illustrates how her own experiences as a live performer have informed her art to a greater good.
The arrangement is a vivid mix of disparate elements from R&B, pop, jazz, and soul woven into a memorable musical experience. The performance choose evolution over showing its hand all at once and various elements, like the evocatively miked drums, warm and fluid keyboard playing, and the occasional guitar rising up out of the mix are perfectly balanced with one another and creates a easy going interplay certain to quickly draw listeners in. The lyrics never aim for pseudo –poetic moments or overreach; instead, Kirbie shows a sureness of hand as a lyricist allowing her to speak of her own concerns with unfettered, down to earth language that, not coincidentally, gives her an even greater chance of connecting with her listeners. “Human” is one of the young year’s finest singles and, as a early taste from the forthcoming Melon Soup, whets our appetite for the main course.
by Lydia Hillenburg