Crosslegged's latest project hits us hard over the course of just four songs.
The latest EP from Brooklyn-based artist Keba Robinson’s Crosslegged project, titled Truly Truly, is really hitting me hard. It’s difficult to stop listening to these four songs once you hear them. If you explore Robinson’s bandcamp for a minute or two, you’ll find that this is far from her first release; in fact, she’s been around for quite a while. But you might notice that Truly Truly is a step away from what she’s done in the past. With the exception of her 2015 LP Speck, Robinson’s influences seem to come from indie folk and blues, a genre to which her voice and words mold beautifully and are reminiscent in a sweet and comforting way of New Orleans artist Valerie June. But over the past couple of years, it seems Robinson has found a home with Crosslegged in the world of dream pop. More synth than bluegrass, she is making sounds on this EP that are conventionally impossible to name, as the Google searches “electro-organ” and “music that sounds like silver” are woefully inadequate.
The album opens with "Under Your Nose," a melancholy tune with electric percussion as subtle as the snapping fingers in the background. Eerie and wrenching, with the refrain “You won’t find it on the pavement / You won’t find it in the dark” – it's terribly nostalgic without knowing why or for what. It's like desperately wanting someone to know how you’re feeling without daring to open your mouth and tell them. "Blue and Green" follows and is a dreamier, more playful song that nevertheless voices a similar feeling: a need to be searched for and found. The opening line “Are you looking for me?” is a simple question, but a complex sentiment that resurfaces over and over in this EP. If this song were a gesture, it would be a beckoning finger; it chimes and reverberates, like footsteps of kids playing hide and seek in a wet garden, “singing fairytales.” Whether intentional or not, this album creates all kinds of paradoxes – it makes me want to run away and stay put at the same time, get lost in a park or my own bedsheets. The third song, "Stand On," takes that yearning and shouts, “You wait too long” while whispering “Wait 'til I’m done.” It’s stark and intimate, with an atmosphere echoing like raindrops into a koi pond. Clocking in at just under 15 minutes, these four songs feel full and complete. They’re cohesive in that they all inhabit a liminal space of contrasts, of synthesizers and dreams, of Robinson’s ethereal singing and the sharp pluck of guitar strings. Play them in an empty warehouse or standing in your bathroom or in an alley in the dark, or any number of places where you’re alone and suffocated. The final song, "With the Wind," is everything I love about a closing track. In its opening notes, it reminds me of Bon Iver’s "Beth/Rest"; it feels at once like coming home and like leaving forever. “What’s the cure that you’re looking for?” Robinson asks, torn between wanting to be found and feeling ultimately okay with being lost. I’m right there with her.
Listen to Crosslegged on bandcamp.
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Anna Dottle is an ambitiously unemployed someday-archaeologist currently living in Wiesbaden, Germany. She self-identifies as a person with Big Hands and a favourite hat store. Find her on twitter as @uteranlining, or in the future as a children’s book author.