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Album Review: Kelis ‘Food’

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on April 29, 2014

Words by Emma Jones

Kelis has been receiving a lot of hype lately, and has just been announced as one of the acts playing at Splendour In The Grass this July. In between having her own cooking show and her food-truck gig at South By Southwest, she’s also released a new album with a new sound – and damn right, it’s better than yours.

Food is Kelis’ sixth album, so she knows what she’s doing. However, something is different. Her voice is mature, her lyrics are powerful, and by teaming up with TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, the song arrangements, added brass sections and intricate percussion makes for a pretty impressive body of work.

The opening track, ‘Breakfast’, is a triumphant, soulful tune which even features her four-year-old son, Knight at the start. Kelis comes in with so much feeling and happiness as she thanks and praises what sounds like a pretty great guy.

The song is awesome. It’ll get you swaying along in no time. The chorus is so catchy that I had it stuck in my head for two days. It’s bright and happy, with rich trumpets, tambourines and beautiful female backing vocals. You could be forgiven for thinking Kelis is talking about the album itself when she sings about “the real thing”.

Next on the menu is a steaming plate of ‘Jerk Ribs’, and yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds. This is the first single off the album and it makes sense why. It’s my favourite track on the album, with its funky horn section and jangly percussion. The euphoric chorus is making me fall in love with this woman all over again.

The second single, ‘Rumble’ is just about the coolest song I’ve heard in a long time. Kelis’ sassy lyrics, smooth piano and back up singers evoke the kind of feeling you’d expect to find in a bar in New Orleans. This song is so full of soul and feelings, I found myself begging along with Kelis as she pleads, “Baby, don’t go!”.

The arrangements throughout the album really parade her new sound and show off her obvious talents. The track names seems to tie the album together with the theme of Food –‘Cobbler’, ‘Friday Fish Fry,’ ‘Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy’ and more. You can tell her love of food and love of music have come together in the best way she knows how – by bringing people together and nourishing their souls and bodies. Indeed, in a recent interview she said that food and music are “both things that are comforting, they are both things that we use to soothe ourselves, they are both things we can use to be creative.”

“Both can be a source of joy and relaxation, you can… bring people together with them.”

This album is one of the best I’ve heard this year. With every tambourine, cow bell and trumpet, Kelis is showing you what she’s made of – and it’s really, REALLY good.

Head along to Splendour In The Grass to catch Kelis in action

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