- 30 Jun 03
Ultra-modern twists on the singing styles of jazz, soul and blues are Topley Bird’s trademark, but her understated ease and sultry innocence are very much her own.
Anyone familiar with Tricky’s early albums – particularly 1994’s stunning Maxinquaye – will know the remarkable voice of his muse Martina Topley Bird, whose strange mix of strength and broken down vulnerability give her a unique sort of fractured beauty, making her sound like an angel with one broken wing. That voice, so laid back and lazy, dreamy and soporific, virtually defined the musical qualities that critics drew together under the name ‘trip hop’. Topley Bird’s fruitful musical relationship with Tricky broke up in 1998 after three albums, and their love relationship broke up too, leaving the very young mother busy with their daughter Macy, and the job of writing her debut solo album, Quixotic.
Taking four years to complete, Quixotic has all the signs of a high investment vintage classic. Ultra-modern twists on the singing styles of jazz, soul and blues are Topley Bird’s trademark, drawing comparisons with greats like Nina Simone, Marlene Dietrich and Billie Holliday – but her understated ease and sultry innocence are very much her own. This stripped down, bare essentials album showcases her beautiful voice and songwriting talents wonderfully, and the music, well! The cast includes David Holmes, Tricky and David Arnold, who does the wonderful string arrangements on the track ‘Ilya’. Need I say more?
While there’s some great frenetic tracks with big fuzzy guitars and distorted vocals, most of Quixotic has that knocked back, slow, sensual, techno-soul sound that Topley Bird co-developed with Tricky. Great stuff to chill out to and smooch to. Buy it – you won’t be disappointed.