It’s been a whirlwind year and a half for Jillian Banks. It all began with radio play from Zane ‘Hottest Record In The World Right Now’ Lowe back in February last year, and from then on there was no stopping her. A nod in the Beeb’s Sound of 2014 award only added to the growing frenzy, and the huge singles just kept on coming, too. Steadily assembling a growing roll-call of rising producers - SOHN, Shlohmo, Al Shux, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur and Lil Silva – Banks quickly established herself as a major new player worth watching.
With so many prolific producers involved – all talented musicians in their own right - there’s a risk that ‘Goddess’ could become a little diluted by hypey aesthetic. At the core of Banks’ sound, though, is a lyrical honesty that colours every cool, trickling twist with unmistakable ownership. There’s wonderful warm simplicity to many of her lyrics, whether in ‘Warm Water’s straight-forward refrain “I think I may love you, if you give me some time,” or the warm, charming, and slightly odd sign-off “from the girl who made you soup,” on ‘Drowning’.
The strongest songs on ‘Goddess’ remain the ones that we have already heard; ‘Brain’ lurks in the shadows, skittering and smouldering, while ‘Waiting Game’ burns in slow-motion like a fuse slowly crackling towards final implosion. The more minimal moments of ‘Goddess’, though, show Jillian Banks in a different light. ‘Someone New’ and album closer ‘Under The Table’ strip things right back to basics, and it’s clear Banks shares as much in common with the likes of Feist and Fiona Apple as she does with smooth-operating pop sheen. It doesn’t necessarily sound cohesive amid the glossy rhythmic propulsion of the rest of the album, and these songs aren’t attention grabbing in quite the same way. They do, though, show the musical lineage that inspires her; along with her unmistakable ear for melody. Like everything Banks seems to do, these are honest songs, included for an honest reason. Against the painstakingly constructed sheen of Banks’ slow-burning Rn’B aesthetic, it’s a contrast that makes her seem all the more confiding and intimate. A bewitching, and surprisingly diverse debut, it looks like Jillian Banks more than lives up to the hype.