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Naima Bock, Fresh Folk and Fancy Free

Door Robert Baird |

Naima Bock, who spent six years in the UK group Goat Girl, makes decidedly modern folk music. With a fresh perspective on a classic genre, her debut is sure to launch her as a pioneer of folk.

Naima Bock fashioned a varied, introspective debut in Giant Palm that mixes indie rock attitude with electronics, large ensembles, and nuanced arrangements. Giant Palm is different from your average solo folk performance, mostly because of the intricate settings around Bock's voice—the effects of many hours spent arranging and recording. Every Morning opens with a swoosh of voices exclaiming in unison, "Hello, darling," before Bock sings a mournful melody which the chorus sometimes joins, one female breaking solo into a high wordless vocal. After she sings "This web I've spun large but thin/ Easily broken in/ And I lie-lie-lie," the melody is tootled to a close by a single whistler.

Working sways to a tropical rhythm that tenor saxophonist Nathan Piggott and trumpeter Fred Wordsworth play around with. The multi-part production Campervan features a dozen players: two violins, two backing vocalists, three saxophones, a clarinet, drums, and bass join producer Joel Burton's piano and Bock's guitar, blossoming into big band chamber music. Engineer Syd Kemp captures the ensembles of varying size and instrumental makeup with precise yet warm brilliance from tune to tune. The unifying element is Bock's low voice; its doleful, downcast tone casts a sombre but agreeable shade across the entire album.

In Instrumental, which opens with just piano and drums, a saxophone enters as the sound of a cocktail party and chirping birds fade in and out. Bock, who is of Greek and Brazilian heritage, sings in Portuguese in closer O Morro, her plaintive tone worked to perfection in this duet with Burton who also plays a synthesizer in a Fender Rhodes mode. This originality and the power of arrangements make Giant Palm quietly encouraging.

LISTEN TO 'GIANT PALM' BY NAIMA BOCK NOW ON QOBUZ!

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