Thursday, July 13, 2017

Like a Woman | Kacy Hill



A few intense trigger words are thrown into each of the few online conversations about American singer-songwriter Kacy Hill: Kanye West, dancer, American Apparel, model, more Kanye West. (Putting those pieces together, she was an American Apparel model, and later, a back-up dancer for Kanye West, who signed her to his GOOD Music record label.) There's a lot of gleaming, seemingly exciting fluff in her backstory, but when it comes down to it, Hill puts on the front of a relatively relaxed person.

Thanks to that background with American Apparel, she was asked if she would like to audition for a dancing position in West's Yeezus Tour. A self-proclaimed terrible dancer who had been staying in the living room of a woman she found on Craigslist, she responded to the offer with something akin to what a teenager would tell her friend who asked to take a midnight trip to Taco Bell: "Meh, whatever, I don't know what else I'm doing."

Peel back a few more layers, though, and she's a bit more pensive than she leads us to believe. Her debut album, Like a Woman, revels in the fact that it was a few years in the making. Meticulous and poetic, it doesn't seem like the album to open with a DJ Mustard production – although Hill made sure his signature "Mustard on that beat, hoe" tag is absent, rightfully refusing that to be the introduction to an album about being a woman – or one to boast Kanye West as an executive producer.

Composed of new tracks and some reworked takes of older tracks, Like a Woman was crafted to be scantily clad, sonically and metaphorically. Bonafide pop creeps through the crevices, particularly on the stomp-along "Arm's Length," but was nipped in the bud elsewhere, like on the unrecognizable reincarnate of "Lion." With a dark sonic palette that leaves wide gaps between its clean-cut beats for sensuality to swirl and linger, the record is a branch on the tree that FKA twigs planted. Hill, however, commands attention as a more versatile vocalist.

Left to be the centerfold of each track, Hill has the stamina to impress, whether quivering within the instrumental voids or soaring right over them. Her childhood background in classical music, playing a few instruments and singing in a choir, makes itself apparent in her technique and delivery. A clear, textured soprano, she often opens rich notes in her mid-range like a parachute deploying amid a free-fall; her voice is a butterfly with iron wings as it flutters through the chorus of "Am I" and becomes the merciless leader of a mechanical choir on "First Time."

Like A Woman carries a vague lyrical storyboard, acting more as a sketchbook than a painting of deep-rooted feelings. Without blatant storytelling or mention to any of her associated keywords, the record was built with mere snapshots of Hill's psyche. These aren't tracks meant to empower or represent; rather, they document personal experiences without looking outwards. Nevertheless, the alluring record affirms that there's much more to the complex experience of womanhood than Kacy Hill implies when not behind the microphone.

Like A Woman is available now under GOOD Music and Def Jam Records.

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