Jessy Lanza

Pull My Hair Back

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Connected through mutual acquaintances, Jessy Lanza was sought by Jeremy Greenspan to contribute background vocals for Junior Boys' It's All True. Greenspan reciprocated by helping Lanza, a music teacher who studied jazz performance and piano, get her head around a bank of synthesizers and drum machines inherited from her father. The pair's time together developed into a recording collaboration that resulted in Pull My Hair Back, Lanza's Hyperdub debut. Two months prior to its release, she appeared on labelmate Ikonika's "Beach Mode," in which she provided a wispy and melismatic but slightly cutting lead. That approach continues all the way through this brief, mostly subdued, sonically rich set. Lanza cites electronic R&B wiz Kashif -- forebear to the likes of Timbaland, the Neptunes, and the-Dream -- as a favorite, and she admires Evelyn King, one of that producer's beneficiaries, but she never aspires to that range and rarely breaks a sweat. Sweetly remote with an assertive and nonchalantly explicit streak, Lanza takes more from the breathier phrasings of Mariah Carey and Aaliyah and occasionally resembles an ecstatic version of the xx's Romy Madley Croft. It's easy to imagine Greenspan singing most of the leads. The productions, like many Junior Boys tracks, are pared down, supple, dimly lit -- full of cushiony beats, rippling synthesizers, clicking/rattling percussion, and liberal use of reverb. It's a variation on the JBs' dubbed-out compound of synth pop and post-disco, and it suits Lanza's voice to enticing effect.

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