“It’s clear that Delilah’s vocal talent is nearly as indisputable as Minnie Ripperton’s, but I’d personally like to flesh out the experimental instrumental arrangements and tone down the honeyed diva in Stoeckler to let us succumb to a truly singular Delilah.”
Delilah – From The Roots Up (2012) 8.5/10
I’m not sure it’s even worth mentioning that songstress Delilah – with a voice that touches clouds and rasps like fallen leaves – is British since the isles have become an enormous petri dish of strong voiced divas. Also, like most of the Queen’s talents, she’s unnervingly young and despite her young age makes show of musical maturity. Starting out with her moniker : Paloma Ayana Stoecker borrowed the name Delilah from her great-grandmother which you could read as a feminist or family heritage homage of sorts. However I like to read further into its etymology rendering Paloma both a temptress siren ensnaring her listeners, and a poet by linking the standard Hebrew meaning “she who uprooted” with the title of her first LP From The Roots Up. Although all these things conjure up a musical Sherazade of sorts, weaving her own acoustic tales, Delilah does in fact bring to mind various other singers in this album, ranging from a cliché Amy Winehouse, to a British Alex Winston or a darker Kate Nash. Delilah’s voice can be cutting-edge whinny, soar up to blinding heights but can also sink into overly girly vibratos and Beyoncé like moaning that the tribal drums and deconstructed beat don’t always compensate for – however with drum and bass tainted instrumentals added to ethnic beats, distorted arrangements and the occasional jazz piano, “From the Roots Up” makes for a solid one woman show debut.
“Never Be Alone” is a case in point of the range of the songstress’ voice : as menacing loops of sounds ring out, so does her voice in a slightly croaking and high pitched way with a slight accent before breaking into suave feminine vocals for the first verse thus creating a sharp contrast. After about a minute, you’d think Rihanna’s little sister was being featured – as unnervingly as in bonus track “Disrespect”- before the sharper chorus voice jumps back in. “Breathe” introduces the jazz and soul influence of the singer – beautifully displayed in “Tabitha, mummy and me” – highlighting Delilah’s diva voice in a more Corinne Bailey Rae way. However the track stresses the album’s tendency to solely rely on its main vocalists’ talent and offer violins and soft drums as a backdrop a bit too easily. Similarly, “Only You” despite its upbeat quality and interesting clinking drums, falls into the pits of syrupy piano notes and honeyed violins – as does “21”.
“I Can Feel you” demonstrates Delilah’s ability for diva darkness with a low gripping base line and perfectly pitched suave vocals – incisive without too much saccharine – making for a truly hip track. “Love You So” draws on the same vibe with an incredibly nonchalant intro in French followed up by bellicose drums and lead vocals who reach perfection by not overdoing it. Added to the fact that the lyrics step away from the typical heartbreak style displayed in most of the album – “I’m falling apart at my every seam / I’m chasing my tail whilst you chase your dream / Inhaling the stench of my love’s betrayal / Keep ignoring the signs darling you’ll prevail » – this track is a case in point of Delilah’s wisdom beyond her years. “So Irate” is the third musketeer of this winning triumvirate : a discreet distorted electric guitar tickles your eardrum as Delilah softly demonstrates the range and dexterity of her voice before a soft drum starts pulsating and handclapped percussion gets you bouncing by the time the chorus comes around.
All in all, it’s clear that Delilah’s vocal talent is nearly as indisputable as Minnie Ripperton’s – whose “Inside My Love” she covers – but I’d personally like to flesh out the experimental instrumental arrangements and tone down the honeyed diva in Stoeckler to let us succumb to a truly singular Delilah.