STORY WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER/For 21st Century Media
The appearance by Kimbra on Gotye’s worldwide smash hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” in the summer of 2011 took a song from so-so to amazing. Truth be told, the New Zealand singer is more palatable as an artist than her quirky Australian-Belgian counterpart. Her style is familiar but can’t be boxed into any one genre; with songs that are entrancing and offer up new discoveries upon each spin. She can shift effortlessly from singing over slinky and danceable background beats to offering a haunting cover of Nina Simone’s “Plain Gold Ring” that does justice to the original and could even be better.
That versatility made her debut Vows, also out in 2011, a joy to listen to on many levels. Most striking, though, is how soulful she sounds, no matter what direction the music ends up taking her in. Playing the foil to Gotye was only the beginning of her story. Now she’s back with The Golden Echo, which came out this past August and is being touted as “the ultimate modern pop record,” coming across as ambitious, sophisticated, and complex, just like its creator.
Friday night at World Café Live downstairs, Kimbra will be performing a sold out show in support of the album which she wrote in her bedroom studio on a farm in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, where she was surrounded by sheep and lambs owned by her landlady. The singer moved there the day after winning two Grammy Awards, including “Record of the Year,” for “Somebody That I Used To Know.”
“It was a very humbling experience,” she said in a statement regarding the Grammy win.
The Golden Echo covers many genres sonically, like ’70s disco (“Miracle”), Prince-like funk (“Madhouse”), playful, sing-songy electro-pop (“90s Music”), eerie space-age hip-hop (“Goldmine”), plus an emotionally resonant piano ballad, “As You Are.” with a string arrangement by Van Dyke Parks. Her lo-fi bedroom aesthetic was filled out by the playing of the musicians, who included R&B singer Bilal, Daniel Johns (Silverchair), Queens Of The Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman, and mega-star John Legend.
IF YOU GO
What: Kimbra in concert. Empress Of opens.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 7.
Where: World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia.
Tickets: $18-$20 [Show is sold out]
Info.: Call 215-222-1400 or visit philly.worldcafelive.com