Goddess, the larger-than-life title of the full-length debut album from Jillian Banks (who uses just her last name), isn’t much of an understatement. Anyone who’s been following the 26-year-old’s steady rise to stardom since she released two EPs last year knows she’s destined to take that throne. Long before dropping this trance-y throng of brooding feels — sentiments draped atop a Goth fusion of fuzz, keyboard punches and pulsating bass (think James Blake meets Feist) — everyone had their eye on this mysterious Los Angeles wunderkind.
And for good reason. Goddess is a slow burner, but once it clicks, it consumes. Creeping up on you, its third track, “The Waiting Game,” builds on a murmured vocal loop with a whirling synthesis of drone-y sounds. Just as you’re caught up in its hypnotic reverb, it ends abruptly. All of its air sucked out, you’re left as breathless as its coda. Next up, “Brain” is folk music from the future. Sexy and soulful, and with a shadowy aura that eventually owns every piece of your being, it inspires a fugue state. Inklings of Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu are present in Banks’ celestial, R&B-inspired singing, the album’s urban edge incites sophisticated simplicity and a lingering evocativeness. “Beggin for Thread,” for instance, is an example of how you do dark for the masses (in the age of Lorde, the song should already be a big hit). And with it, it’s clear Banks won’t have to do much begging. If you’re not already praising this Goddess, you will be.
— Chris Azzopardi
Three stars. Available Tuesday.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 5, 2014.