The first single from Washington DC area singer/songwriter Kirbie’s new album, Melon Soup, is entitled “Human” and gives listener an excellent taste of what they can expect from this upcoming release. Her self-titled 2010 release presented her as a compelling talent with her own idiosyncratic voice quite unlike any other working today, but “Human” shows evidence of the tremendous artistic strides she’s made in the interim. Kirbie has pursued her songwriting craft for nearly a decade and has truly arrived with a sound that is all her own – marrying an atmospheric hybrid of jazz/soul/R&B with a sharply observed songwriting sensibility far more commonly heard in the works of unadorned singer/songwriters. The new single is a track of satisfying depth and the production emphasizes its aforementioned atmospherics without ever dragging the track down. Kirbie’s “Human” will bend some ears, garner a lot of well deserved praise, and ultimately, propel Kirbie ever closer to the level of success she deserves.
The arrangement kicks off with some groove centered drumming, distance miked, before segueing into the song’s proper beginning. The aforementioned drum break recurs at key points in the composition, but the song is carried primarily by some exceedingly tasteful keyboard playing bobbing up and down in the mix. The song evolves as it plays on, however, and the later contributions from guitar are judiciously added to the mix along with a steadily mounting sense of drama courtesy of the drumming. It’s really quite nice how something as seemingly simple as drumming can steer this song so effectively, but there’s no question that it does and the dramatic qualities it fills the track with elevate the entire outing to a much higher level. The arrangement, likewise, keeps things focused and running in a straight line – there’s no unnecessary excursions or self indulgence weighing down the band or vocalist.
Kirbie’s singing performance is the whole deal. She’s wonderfully emotive without ever dragging the song into outright melodrama, but there’s enough technical skill with what she does to further set her apart from her peers. Her sense of phrasing is virtually second to none. She listens intently to what the band’s doing, as they do her, and responds accordingly with just the right mix of stressing syllables, relaxing, and embodying a confidence that notably contrasts with the lyrical subject matter. The words are artfully strung together and never risk obscurity. Instead, Kirbie speaks directly to her audience about a common human experience – questioning our own weaknesses while sometimes forgetting that we are all, in some sense, seriously flawed. Our imperfections define us as human and the song pushes acceptance of these things rather than bemoaning them. It makes “Human” a fascinating and entertaining listening experience certain to connect with anyone who gives it a chance. Kirbie Rose Parker’s growth has been astonishing in the short amount of time she’s received national exposure and there’s no apparent limit on where she can take her skill set from here.