Under Review

Under Review: Voice Leading, Kellarissa

Shebli Khoury

Music and vocals combine with a terrific force in Voice Leading. “Shadows, bodies / You ignore me / I can’t tell you why” Kellarissa sings on the album opener “Exposition” as the synths and vocals create a disconcerting tension that just keeps growing and growing. Somehow and without clearly seeing how it happens, this beautifully transitions to a moment of clarity and triumph as Kellarissa’s soaring vocals (“I’ve only known desire”) echo majestically on top of thumping drums and synths.

Both vocals and music (and spaces in the music) change to accommodate the emotions Kellarissa is guiding us to feel and consider. “Passive aggressive; push away your best friends, / Constant erosion; am I a bad person?” The words are being pulled apart and left hollow, giving space for the rapid synths to contribute to an eerie emptiness.

Kellarissa draws us into this haunting quagmire of atmospheres, thoughts, and feelings, but also leaves us with some way to navigate it all. “Why can’t we look away? / Reflections start to fade / It might be time to face our double being / Mind without body is free” on title track “Voice Leading” sounds like a realization encouraging you to tackle self-doubt. At other times, like in “Dread,” Kellarissa explains feelings with piercing clarity that equips us with a chance to fight back. All being said, I wouldn’t be against hearing an album by Kelarrissa that puts vocals above all else.

The atmospheres that are created with the synths are magnificent — the uncomfortable pulsating combined with the epic tones on “Tempting Fate” work well with the choral vocals, and give an impression of a futuristic spiritual meeting. The twangy synths on “Bad Influence” draws you in like a whirlwind, which is clearly very fitting for that song.

Voice Leading is a very cohesive album that is both substantial and accessible. The interplay between all the different elements is masterful and leaves you eagerly anticipating Kellarissa’s next work.