Banks’ ambitious debut shows she’s best serving as her own muse 

Catch her on ‘The Goddess Tour’ at the Beacham

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOHN MICHAEL FULTON
  • Photo by JOHN MICHAEL FULTON

BANKS: THE GODDESS TOUR with Movement, Lil Silva

6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20 | The Beacham, 46 N. Orange Ave. | 407-246-1419 | thebeacham.com | $20-$35

For a closeted songwriter whispering songs to a private Soundcloud, it’d probably take a snowstorm in Hades’ lair to realize any sort of fame or acclaim. But for self-proclaimed goddess Banks, these are her mythical origins after British DJ Zane Lowe – an NME-award-winning MTV Rocks DJ who was notably the first to play Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” on the radio – started rotating her original single, “Before I Ever Met You,” at the beginning of 2013. This put her on a pop pedestal – as well as on multiple 2014 “artists to watch” lists – and Banks seemed poised to cash in after a successful tour supporting the Weeknd.

Now she’s out on her own headlining worldwide tour. Fans of Erykah Badu and Fiona Apple will likely question the usual suspects referencing those untouchables when cycling hype behind Banks, whose moody R&B debut album, Goddess, was just released Sept. 5. While songs like “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From” sound like garden-variety teen drama soundtrack fodder, there’s no denying the special flair for genuine, heart-thumping introspection that Banks demonstrates on tracks like “Beggin for Thread” and “Waiting Game.” The stickiness of “Fuck Em Only We Know” offers a memorable anthem for modern lovers entangled in Romeo and Juliet-type romances.

Over the course of 14 tracks that last just under an hour, Goddess seems never-ending but not immortal. Whether Banks’ fast rise to popularity dooms her future output is yet to be seen, but discrediting the promise of the young artist so soon would be foolhardy. Some of the songs on her debut you’ll recognize from prior releases, like “Waiting Game,” “Change” and “Warm Water,” creating a sort of cobbled-together flow that disrupts the album – almost like listening to a prematurely released greatest hits compilation. Some critics blame the album’s eight producers, whose divine interference seems to hold back this previously self-stifled artist who is likely best when serving as her own muse.

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