Buzz, a strong fan base, and an incredible voice hve left many anticipating Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jillian Banks’s debut album Goddess, released in Canada on Sept. 9.
Known simply as Banks, her genre can only be described as a mix between electronic indie pop and alternative R&B. Her album, released through Harvest Records and Universal Music Canada, contains a whopping 18 tracks on the deluxe edition.
Along with her unique sound and obvious songwriting talent, the album contains only a handful of previously-unheard tracks; more than half the material was previously released and sold as individual singles or as part of EPs (London and Fall Over, both released in 2013).
Her voice and sound have been compared to Feist, FKA Twigs, Erykah Badu, and even Lana Del Rey. The dark R&B-type genre can be most accurately compared to The Weeknd, especially on tracks like “Brain,” which was released as the first single on Jan. 28. Consider the lyrics:
I can see you struggling, boy don’t hurt your brain, thinking what you’re going to say, cause everything’s a game.
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The track is filled with slow, dark instrumentation, with most of the melody created by using layers of her voice. The track beautifully builds up from her quiet voice to nearly yelling in the second half, as if yelling to get through to the boy in question.
One of the most carefully produced and arguably best tracks on the record, “Drowning” takes a fairly dark theme (“you are not deserving, you are not deserving, because I’m drowning for ya”) and twists it to become the most radio-friendly song on the album.
Although “Waiting Game” garnered the most buzz and attention early in her career, “Goddess” was the real game-changer. She took the themes of heartbreak and confusion that dominated the rest of her tracks and turned it around to make a strong, powerful, feminist anthem. As the title track of the album, she sets the tone for the power she has as a woman. Singing in third person, she says “you shoulda crowned her, cause she’s a goddess / fucking with a goddess and you get a little colder.” As before, she layers her voice as an instrument to create a beautiful, empowering effect.
Goddess definitely contains tracks that fly under the radar, mostly the ones previously unheard when the album was released. Tracks like “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From,” “Someone New,” and “Under the Table,” are very slow, mellow, and don’t deliver the same punch as tracks like “Before I Ever Met You,” or even “Beggin For Thread” do. These tracks are still well written in their own respect, but are simply average and bring the album down. In this case, less is more.
Banks’s debut album finds a way to romanticize melancholy and heartbreak. From even the most upbeat tracks, she is a woman torn and hurt, yet still alluring. She took ownership of how she feels, giving Goddess, a score of four heartbreaks out of five.