Drifting is available at:
The album Drifting was released on 01.01.’16 and is available at:
My Old Friend– 9.3
Haunted by a Shadow– 9.3
Let Me Love You– 9.3
Closed Eyes– 9.4
The Voice Inside– 9.3
You’re Beautiful– 9.4
Time Goes On– 9.3
Drifting; Closed Eyes; You’re Beautiful
FOR the first time this year it is not only a great solo artist…
I get to review, but someone who raises a few interesting points regarding music. Before introducing my featured act, I am looking at music outside the U.K.; the importance of travel and relocation- the sounds that are shaping up for this year. Most of last year was dedicated to discovering and fostering U.K.-born acts; artists that did not stray too far beyond Britain. Over the coming year I will be looking at more international acts and what they have to offer. A lot of music outlets tend to concentrate on their homegrown artists and do not give much of a glimpse to musicians from other countries. Some of my fondest discoveries from 2015 were those artists that hail from outside the U.K. Not only do I get to discover a new sound/artist but investigate a new country and culture. What I noticed from last year is the amount of musicians moving abroad and changing their locations. Whether it was a move outside the U.K. – or a slight move within the country- I have seen a lot of emigration and change. I am not bringing it up as an idle point; movement and change has brought about some musical transformation and improvement. Musicians are constantly looking for inspiration and something new; a landscape that will influence their mind and support their goals. Changing homes and location can do a hell of a lot for music: the artist gets a chance to take in fresh faces and scenes; find some new impetus. I mention this point because my featured act originated in Australia (Adelaide) but now resides in Germany. It seems the people and sights of Heidelberg have motivated and compelled Kirbanu; her new home has brought about song inspiration and a lot of happiness. I am not saying musicians need to find a new country/town in order to find inspiration; staying in the same spot can lead to some stagnation and limitation. Little is known about the Australian-born star- there are few biographical details on her official site- but the young artist has had a busy past year. Her album Drifting has just been released (yesterday): the culmination of hard work and dedication; the album shows a stunning talent with many years ahead of her (I shall be doing a review of the album near the end of this piece). A few weeks ago I was looking at Australian artists and how fertile the country is- few eyes look there when it comes to the brightest musicians. When it comes to Adelaide itself, bands such as Cold Chisel and Atlas Genius sit alongside Double Dragon and Virgin Black. With direct contemporaries such as Joy Sparkes and Naomi Keyte putting Adelaide on the map, it is not shocking to see Kirbanu emerge and prosper. The south Australian hub is up there with Sydney, Melbourne and Perth (when it comes to the best new music). I hope 2016 sees journalist and the music press dedicate more time outside the U.S. and U.K. When you expand your horizons and take your mind across the globe; you can discover some stunning music and fascinating artists. Kirbanu has essences of her Adelaide solo contemporaries- a distinct accent and sound that merges with something contemporary- but draws in inspirations of her new home. When it comes to Kirbanu’s music, that voice is the queen: the central figure that captivates and seduces at will. In developing the voice, Kirbanu assesses it thus (information sourced from her official website):
“So at this point you could think that I was born a singer. That I was gifted from age 4 with the perfect sound. That my parents groomed me through childhood to cultivate my gift. Perhaps this fantasy would lead me to some fancy music conservatory like Julliard. And then culminate in a mesmerizing performance onstage with Beyoncé in front of millions. Great though it would be, this picture couldn’t be further from the truth…
Though I’ve loved singing all my life, for a long time I lacked the confidence to seriously pursue it. Even when I was finally performing on stage, I still had so many doubts about my voice. I was incredibly insecure. Having grown up in a world where music was basically forbidden, I felt ashamed of longing to be a singer. This fear was so strong that I sang in front of no one. I kept my love shut away. I practiced only in my car, in secret.
But true love cannot be pacified. And as I aged my love became a wild fire burning inside, longing to be released. I needed to sing. I had to understand the voice. I felt like a bird trapped, longing for release and I knew I could only find that release through embracing and empowering my voice. So I cracked”.
2015 was the Adelaidean’s finest to date; she is clearly reveling in her surroundings the fans that support her. Drifting is the result of that new-found inspiration and happiness: an album that sees Kirbanu let her magic voice soar and hit the soul; present touching love songs and personal insight. There are a lot of great female artists coming through, although few have such a distinctive sound and vocal- something that has seen Kirbanu’s social media numbers climb. Into this month, Kirbanu tours Australia and gets a chance to ‘come home’- enthrall her native crowd and show them what they’re missing. This year will see Kirbanu tour her new album and reach out to new audiences. The album shows a lot of hard work and attention; immense amounts of heart and passion- there is no telling what the next year will hold. After such a prosperous and busy 2015; I am sure Kirbanu will keep that momentum going and produce yet more new music. I hope she comes to the U.K. and plays here; there are plenty of venues and towns that would welcome her fondly. With so many new musicians coming through, it will be challenging narrowing-down the best this year has to offer. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone as immediate and memorable as Kirbanu. Her music may not hit you instantly; it reveals new layers and insights as you re-investigate- sounds that have plenty of nuance and long-term appeal. She digs into common-day themes whilst giving them a personal perspective; ensuring the listener can relate and empathise with the songs. If you have not encountered her new album, make sure you check it out.
Drifting is one of the first of Kirbanu’s works I have encountered. Whilst reviewing the title track- and checking the album out as a whole- it was prudent to look back and see how the Adelaide-born artist has progressed. From the earliest days, Kirbanu has showcased that peerless and stunning voice. If you check out her YouTube channel, you can hear the cover versions she makes her own. From Birdy’s All About You to Florence and the Machine’s Cosmic Love; you get new insight and life into existing songs- they are transformed and made new. Most of Kirbanu’s original material is contained within Drifting; Wrapped in Your Love was released last year- and is one of the few songs not contained on the album. A paen and love song to her husband (one would assume); the song showcases devotion and a huge passion- appreciation for what has been given and what she has. A simple and upbeat acoustic-led composition; it allows that rich and vibrant voice to create something soulful and bold. Her latest material shows greater confidence and depth. The compositions are more varied and deep; the subject matter goes away from love to take in other topics- a fully-rounded and complete work. Whilst Wrapped in Your Love was a great song from the young artist; it was a sign of things to come. Given the confidence and talent displayed throughout Drifting, it will be great to see what strikes Kirbanu next.
When it comes to Drifting, I was keen to focus upon its title track. Beginning with a soft and delicate acoustic lead; you become relaxed and fascinated from the off- swept up by the gentility and gracefulness of the strings. As that introduction builds and develops- becoming atmospheric and eerie in places; instilled with wistfulness and beauty- our heroine comes to the microphone. In the early stages, she recalls decisions around emigration- leaving her home and relocating to another country. It instantly stands out as one of the most personal and reflective tracks on the album- that move from Australia to Germany. The people “and the stories they’d spin” never resonated with Kirbanu; that distance and sense of not fitting in- that underlying need to go somewhere she belonged. Whether directly referencing her move to Germany I am not sure- although one assumes this is being attested- you can hear that reality and urgency in the vocal. The performance has some sadness and sensitivity early on; anxious when recalling time at ‘home’- that dislocation and lack of identity. Having “sailed off across the world” the heroine began her travels in that need for a new home. In a way Drifting can be seen as an impersonal song or metaphor for love. If not seen as a directly autobiographical, the words could apply to that search for love and personal belonging- being a better and happier person. That escape and adventure has seen the heroine expand her horizons and experience something magical. Having seen so many new faces and places, you can hear that sense of relief and happiness- something that was long-overdue and almost spiritual. In spite of the travels and new experiences, the biggest change has been inside of her. As the chorus comes to play you get a sense of someone who has lost her identity; was drifting at sea- perhaps not all is well it seems. This constant movement and relocation has not been as beneficial as hoped. With so many countries visited- so many faces and stories seen and heard- you get the impression of a nomad; a woman that is searching for stability and an anchor- she is lost at sea and unsure of where she belongs. Feeling she is “going blind”; you get vivid and unforgettable images portrayed. The vocal changes course as the song progresses. In the early stages- when the lyrics look at the heroine relocating and moving- it is almost spoken; it is calmer and sweeter. When thoughts look at personal heartache and loss you get a more impassioned and urgent vocal sound. That tension and hurt is evident and unescapable as you immerse yourself in the song and follow the lyrics- following the heroine as she goes from place to place. As our heroine talks about anchors and not being rooted; a tribal and rampant drum comes in to give the track that needed heartbeat- something that brings huge force and resonance to proceedings. Being lost and drifting at sea; in need of something safe and secure- you cannot help but to wonder how things resolved themselves. Knowing Kirbanu is happy where she is right now- and it seems her home is where her heart is- it is curious what inspired the song. The musician’s life will see them constantly travel and meet new people; not being settled and endlessly moving- it is a song that many can relate to. In other aspects, the song could be a broader look at love and personal happiness. It takes time to find someone that means a lot to you; someone that fulfils you. Whereas other album tracks look at happiness and fulfillment; Drifting deals more with harsher concerns and something more upsetting. At every stage you are rooting for the heroine and want to see her happy- hoping she found her feet eventually. The composition never encroaches on the mood and remains supportive and augmentative. That exhilarating drum introduction gives the track extra spark and life; the rousing strings give it energy and movement. As the song enters the final third, you get an introduction of something more haunted and spectral- aching electronics and something more shadowy. As a composer, Kirbanu always pays close attention and ensures the composition is as effective as the vocal. The quiet-loud dynamic of the song- the way it can be restrained and then suddenly explode- keeps the listener on their toes for sure. It is the constant passion and soulfulness that makes Drifting such a standout. The lyrics deal with common-day and relatable concerns. Although deeply personal to Kirbanu; there are going to be so many people listening in the same boat- a boat that has no clear destination.
Congratulations must be given to Kirbanu whose voice is at its most agile and passionate throughout the song. Showcasing beauty and sensitivity; introspective emotion and something deeply moving- a performance that is hard to fault. The lyrics give an insight into her mind and past; the words are never clichéd or predictable- something that few other musicians can boast. Supported by a composition that gives plenty of colour and drama to the song; Drifting is a song that gets inside the heart and evokes emotion and reflection. Few artists are capable of producing songs so immediate and striking. Drifting is an album that provides so many gems; none as quite as mesmeric as the title track.
It is clear 2015 has been a prosperous and happy one for Kirbanu. With Heidelberg offering up its daily beauty and inspiration; that joy and comfort is reflected in the music she makes. Few people can deny that incredible voice and the quality of the songs being offered. Throughout Drifting– I shall do a mini-review soon- you get insights into the Australian; her love and admiration she has- whilst it explores universal themes and heartaches. It is not a coincidence social media numbers are climbing and she has such a loyal fan-base. On a daily basis- throughout Facebook and Twitter- there are effusive messages and supportive praise. That music is resonating with people and drawing a lot of people in. Perhaps it is the passion and commitment injected into every song; that voice and all it can do- maybe something difficult to explain. Whatever the reason behind things, it is clear Kirbanu is a name to watch in 2016. I started by stating how few people tend to look outside the U.K. and U.S. with regards new music. People tend to go where the media leads them. A lot of media outlets tend to rely too heavily on their homegrown artists and overlook the wonderful music that originates farther afield. I have loved what Australia offered throughout 2015. It is a country that has produced some of new music’s most original and memorable artists. Let’s hope media trends are overhauled and they start to open their minds slightly- so much great music is being lost or discovered by chance. Social media can make a difference but it is so vast it is impossible to get a grip on it. I guess we just have to be thankful for the artists we come across when they do. Kirbanu is one of the most vibrant and passionate musicians I have come across. She has such respect for her fans and is keen to connect with them daily. That love is reciprocated; it translates into music which is brimming with heart and soul; such a memorable sound. It seems like relocation and emigration works wonders for the mind of a musician. Always seeking fresh faces and desires; changing scenery can lead to reinvention and huge inspiration. Although Kirbanu was born in Australia she lives in Germany. Not wanting to be anywhere else it seems; Heidelberg has got her creative juices flowing and resulted in some amazing moments. This coming year is going to see a lot of hungry young artists come through; all eager to make their mark and grab the attention of the media. I have never been a fan of end-of-year polls and who is tipped to be the best for the coming year. It is always more reliable following your own instincts and arriving at your own conclusions.
In addition to its title track; Drifting boasts plenty of wonderful moments and surprises. My Old Friend begins with an intrepid and spring-time acoustic sound; pastoral and serene it gets the listener into a peaceful mindset. The song looks at our heroine and a friend- recounting a time when they were young- and the adventures they shared. Days at the beach and under the sun; the duo were inseparable and free. With her voice at its most evocative and breathless; you get a song that is so vivid and scenic. As our heroine is a “gypsy”- and wandering the world- her subject is based in London- you begin to wonder who is being recalled. The song continues its picturesque and story-like projection; drawing you into a tale of separation and desire- that need to rekindle something that once burned so bright. Haunted by a Shadow has a more spirited and hard introduction. Our heroine’s heart has been frozen a thousand times; there seems to be something lingering on her mind. When she closes her eyes and tries to sleep; this spectral burden is weighing her down. Suffocated and plagued by this feeling- there is some obliqueness that does not reveal the full extent of the troubles- you get a song of trouble and anxiety. Kirbanu’s voice keeps the song uplifted and emotive; it never strays into depressive territory- it is full-bloodied and defiant. That chorus is one of the most sing-along and memorable on the record- monsters and ghosts under the bed; that lingering fear- and shows our heroine is adept at creating indelible hooks and choruses no matter what the subject.
After the suffocated stress and desperation of the previous track; Let Me Love You offers something more serene and hopeful. Our heroine wants her man to lie beside her; rest their head and put down their weapon- just lie there with her. One of the most arresting and pin-sharp vocals arrives here: filled with sweetness and passion it is heartfelt and hugely soulful. Bare-naked and honest, the track explores purging the past and the need to find togetherness- opening the heart and “let love inside”. The composition mixes delicate piano notes with a springing acoustic guitar line that melts together wonderfully- backed by some aching strings to create something operatic and dramatic. Closed Eyes starts with one of the album’s most unique introductions; it leads to a vocal that is instilled with beauty and passion. Semi-operatic and hugely powerful, the track looks at sinking ships and painful pasts- the subconscious being affected by things that have come before. Again that composition remains fairly sparse yet effective: the electric keys and languid strings fuse wonderfully to create something emotional, rich and stunning. Transcending into wordless vocals; you have one of the album’s pinnacles: a track that truly showcases the depth and breadth of Kirbanu’s vocals and compositional talents. The Voice Inside sees a subject sitting confused alone- “a battle with yourself”- and thinking things through. Looking at herself, our heroine investigates the voice inside her; projects outward to people who are confused and conflicted. That friction and confliction is tearing them apart; they need to fight for redemption and “turning your back on who you’re supposed to be”. It is here we get the most varied and evolving composition. Samba moments melt with Jazz notes; there is plenty of energy and dance within the song. Urging chance-taking and listening to that voice; doing things differently and living life better- it is one of the album’s most positive and hopeful tracks.
You’re Beautiful kicks into gear with a sprite and uplifting sound. Our heroine looks at someone who is failing; judging themselves by who they’re not- there are fears that are blinding the song’s subject. The “iron fortress” in the skin is causing pain and blocking things out; there is baggage causing damage too- a lot of vivid images and raw emotions come to the surface. It is uncertain who is being referred to- if it is a friend or a former love- but there is a sympathy and understanding in the lyrics. There is no accusation or judgement; just an understanding and support. The song’s hero/heroine is unique and special; they can overcome the hurdles- and can make things better. You cannot help but be caught in the rush and effusiveness of the vocal; that rousing composition- the song acts as a theme song for anyone in the same position. Time Goes On brings the album to a gentle and contemplative close. Looking at life’s dichotomies and bookends; mortality explored and explained- life goes on regardless. The composition boasts yearning cello and gentle acoustic guitar; a tender piano sound that perfectly soundtracks the themes of passing moments and life’s realities. It brings to close an album that mixes emotions and themes; it is constantly engaging and enthralling- promoted by a voice that has endless beauty and potential. Drifting is an album that can ease the mind and keep troubles at bay; take you somewhere special and do something wonderful. With exceptional production values and perfect track-listing- each song is wonderfully polished; tracks are exactly where they should be- you get an album that stands up to repeated assaults and reveals new beauty…
WITH every fresh investigation.