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The Best New Songs: keiyaA, Tomberlin, SAULT and More

Get the context behind On Rotation, our curated weekly playlist of new releases

On April 19, 2022

Our Best New Songs series is here to give you context on what we’re spinning each week in VMP’s On Rotation playlist — curated by VMP staff, no algorithm needed. Listen and read along below to find out why these artists should be on your radar. 

keiyaA: “Camille’s Daughter”

Brooklyn artist keiyaA has returned with “Camille’s Daughter,” her first new music following her 2020 album Forever, Ya Girl. (Although, in the interim, she did record a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music.) The track is a single from Soon Come, an upcoming compilation album split between day — the A-side including “Camille’s Daughter” — and night, via British label Touching Bass. The South London-based collective, which became a record label in 2019, is also a musical movement and curatorial platform, concert series and biweekly NTS Radio residency led by Errol and Alex Rita — among other things. “Camille’s Daughter” was released alongside Ben Hauke’s “Turn It On,” a track more aligned with the club-oriented music of Touching Bass’ dance events.

Soon Come will also feature collaborations with DJ Harrison, Ben Hauke, Ego Ella May, Nala Sinephro, Melo-Zed, Hiatus Kaiyote’s Clever Austin, Wu-Lu, Demae and more. According to a statement about the record, “For newcomers, Soon Come acts as a vital introduction to the [Touching Bass’] wide-spanning DNA. For those already acquainted, it’s a glimpse at its exciting future.”

In an interview about the collective and label, Errol told DJ Mag, “Touching Bass is a musical movement, and when I say movement, I’m thinking of forward movement — energy.” He continued, “I would say our focus is groove-based. Anything from jazz all the way up to jungle. We want to be forward-thinking, very much paying respect to what has come before, but also exploring new territories and connections.”

Tomberlin: “sunstruck”

“sunstruck” is the latest single from i don’t know who needs to hear this, the upcoming sophomore album from Sarah Beth Tomberlin, aka Tomberlin. The music video for the song, directed by Ryan Schnackenberg, is preoccupied with authenticity and public image, giving a behind-the-scenes look at Tomberlin at a photoshoot, alternating between footage of her with heavy makeup and styling and more natural, laidback moments.

Speaking about “sunstruck” in a statement, Tomberlin said, “This is an aerial view love song that is also not a love song. It is more a love song to forced distance, time alone with yourself, letting go, searching for yourself and the healing that takes place when you make those things an active focus in your life.”

She added, “These things are choices, they don’t just happen on their own. You can choose to practice them or you can choose stagnancy. This is a love song to the growth that often can take place if you choose to tend to your own life’s garden.”

This theme of tending to your own life’s garden resonates directly with the lyrics of “sunstruck,” with Tomberlin singing at the close: “A year passes and some seeds take root / Your garden is growing and mine’s growing too / And the work’s not always fun / But it’s better than staring at the weeds and the mud / We left behind some pain to get to the magic thing.”

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘i don’t know who needs to hear this’ here.

SAULT: “Time Is Precious”

UK group SAULT are back with their latest full-length, AIR, the follow-up to 2021’s NINE (which was only available to stream, download or purchase for 99 days after its release). Universally described as “mysterious,” according to The Guardian, the British musical collective has provided “no interviews, no photos, no videos, no live appearances” and has “a perfunctory and entirely non-interactive social media presence.” With the exception of Inflo (a producer known best for work with Little Simz and Michael Kiwanuka), speculation about other members of the collective has not been fully confirmed nor denied — although Simz, Kiwanuka, Cleo Sol and others have been tied to SAULT releases.

Appearing fifth on the seven-track album, “Time Is Precious” lists writing credits for Cleopatra Nikolic (better known under the moniker Cleo Sol) and Dean Josiah Cover (aka Inflo, also credited as the song’s producer). Mostly sweeping, wordless vocals and cinematic strings, when the lyrics come in, they are sparse and straightforward: “Don’t waste time ’cause time is precious / It’s your only time you’ve got here.”

AIR is such a departure from previous SAULT releases that some VMP staff listening to the album had to double check to see if they pressed play on the right album; various reactions ranged from “What the hell is this Sault album lol” to “This doesn’t sound like the same group at all!” and one employee even wanted to know if they were “being punked.” AIR proves again that the only predictable thing about SAULT is that they’ll continue to be unpredictable.

Cisco Swank, Luke Titus & Saba: “Nothing’s Changed”

Cisco Swank — born Francisco Haye, is a 21-year-old multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer from Brooklyn — and Luke Titus — a 24-year-old multi-hyphenate artist from Chicago — are joined by rappers Saba and Femdot, frequent Noname collaborator Phoelix and New York City singer-songwriter Malaya on Some Things Take Time. The album is brief, only 11 songs with a 24-minute runtime, but has an expansive sound. “Nothing’s Changed,” featuring Saba, is a standout track that exemplifies how they describe their debut as a duo: “one-part beat tape, one-part Blue Note jazz session.” 

Lizzo: “About Damn Time”

The music video for Lizzo’s latest single, “About Damn Time,” starts in a “Stressed & Sexy” support group (echoed in the pre-chorus: “I been so down and under pressure / I'm way too fine to be this stressed”), but turns into a surreal disco — disco ball, sequins and all. “About Damn Time” is the lead single from Lizzo’s upcoming fourth album, Special. Speaking to Apple Music’s Zane Lowe about the track, she said, “I was in my diva bag on this one … This was intentionally disco, funk, something to walk to coming out of this dark time. This was intentional, the genre of music.”

You can pre-order ‘Special’ from the VMP Store here.

Bas & Ari Lennox: “[The Others]”

“[The Others],” featuring Ari Lennox, is one of four tracks on Bas’ latest EP, [BUMP] Pick Me Up. Recently, both artists contributed alongside their other labelmates to Dreamville’s D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape, released at the end of March (Bas was Dreamville’s first signee after the label was founded by J. Cole in 2007). True to the new EP’s name, “[The Others]” serves as a pick-me-up, with Lennox and Bas floating over a lighthearted beat. At the chorus, they repeat together: “You got a lot, you got a lot, be grateful for it.”

Jordana: “To The Ground”

“To The Ground” is the most recent single from Jordana’s upcoming record, Face The Wall. In a statement about the song, she said, “It’s about being alone and starting from square one, not knowing how and where to start, a venture into adulthood. With the path to growing up, it’s wanting to not ask for any help on any growth to feel accomplished and self brought up, emotionally and physically. The only help being asked for in this song is to be stripped completely and figuratively thrown to the ground to get back up.”

You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Face The Wall’ here.

Jeshi & Obongjayar: “Protein”

East London rapper Jeshi is joined by Nigerian-born, London-based artist Obongjayar on the latest single, “Protein,” from his upcoming debut, Universal Credit. The two artists teamed up for a music video for the track as well, directed by Will Dohrn. Obongjayar is also set to release his own debut full-length, Some Nights I Dream Of Doors, in May. Jeshi said of the track: “OB is my guy so it was super fun making this together which I think comes across in the song. This was a really important side to capture on the album to show that no matter what’s going on, not every day is a bad one. This moment just feels really good and I love that.”

Yaya Bey: “keisha”

“keisha” is the lead single from Remember Your North Star, the upcoming fourth record from New York City-born, D.C.-based R&B artist Yaya Bey. In a statement about the record, Bey said, “I saw a tweet that said, ‘Black women have never seen healthy love or have been loved in a healthy way.’ That's a deep wound for us. Then I started to think about our responses to that as Black women. So this album is kind of my thesis. Even though we need to be all these different types of women, ultimately we do want love: love of self and love from our community. The album is a reminder of that goal.”

Koloah: “Serenity”

“Serenity” is the title track from Kyiv-based Koloah’s latest album. In a statement (also the text of the album cover), he explained

On February 24, my life turned upside down into a nightmare again, and anxiety became a leading feeling that haunts us wherever we go and no matter what we do.

Today it is hard to find support and peace in yourself. All we see around us is fear, anger, pain, exhaustion, broken destinies, innocent victims of the war that became the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

After the rockets began to fly into the city and the enemy troops almost reached the center, I took my cat, two T-shirts, a jacket, a laptop and left Kyiv. Will I be able to return to my hometown? Will Kyiv be as I remember it? Probably only in the memories. After a hasty run, my 70 hours journey had begun, until I reached a place where I could settle down and find new support. However, even here I can hear the sounds of sirens and rocket explosions. Now no one can predict the course of events, it's impossible to understand what will happen in a week, we are not sure if tomorrow will come.

These were the impetus for the release of the album now. In daily hell, music became my support, my therapy. Now I want to share my strength and support with others. I created this album to reflect on what is happening to us: tears, nostalgia, dreams of the future, and faith in a bright tomorrow. We will survive, return to our hometowns, and rebuild the country when the war is over.

The profit from the album will go to the Refugee Support Fund.

Glory to Ukraine! 

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