Few performers today are like Kirbie. You won’t mistake her for anyone else. Kirbie’s newest release “Human” is the first single from her as-yet-unreleased second album, Melon Soup, and shows off her iconoclastic talents in a remarkable, yet compact, fashion. There’s a decidedly retro feel to the arrangement and instruments used, but the top flight production values place these traditional elements in a thoroughly modern context. She’s accompanied by a cadre of superior musicians who know just what and when to play without ever attempting to compete with her. Instead, the band seems intent on following the rise and fall of her voice and this attentiveness pays off with an even more complete performance than we might otherwise be treated to. The eloquently conversational tone of the lyrical content makes the song’s difficult subject matter go down a lot easier, but her immensely stylish delivery ensures that she’s able to get her message over with maximum clarity and minimal fuss.
Kirbie has been plying her musical trade for nearly a decade in the DC metro area and its surrounding environs and the extensive live experience is easily heard in her vocals. Kirbie moves like a dancer through this song, slowing up when she needs to, adding extra punch to her lines when it calls for it, and presenting an unified interpretation of the song. It’s an interpretation that wraps up with the subject matter quite nicely without ever becoming too heavy-handed. The phrasing she uses makes the absolute most of its subject matter and seems to follow a natural movement with the lyric that grabs hold of all its ups and downs. It speaks personal truth to her audience without ever browbeating listeners with it and it’s difficult to disagree with her convincing presentation. It’s the vocal that leaves the deepest mark on listeners and few will fail to be impressed by her wide-ranging power and feeling.
The musical values are every bit as strong. The keyboards and drumming, in particular, prompt a lot of key turns in the arrangement and never pushes too hard to provoke reactions from listeners. The percussion puts on a virtual clinic and spurs much of the musical drama; the hard-hitting intensity explodes at certain parts before retreating once again into a groove that the drummer never loses. There are some added bits of guitar, all artfully employed, that begin dropping in during the song’s second half and Kirbie keeps the length at a manageable place where the songwriting can make the most impact. All of her decisions, big and small, help make “Human” one of the most impressive new releases of 2017 and sets the stage for a whole new chapter in Kribie’s career. If Melon Soup maintains this same level of quality throughout, many more people will soon know Kirbie’s name. These sorts of talents can be ignored or neglected for a little while, but not for long.