"When I give these books away," serpentwithfeet wonders, "will my ink betray me?" His opening isn't a worry. These songs will be given away — serpentwithfeet's only concern is that his books will be greeted with the same genuine intentions that inspired them to travel in the first place: "Boy, whoever reads about how much I adore you... I hope my words bring them something new."
The first song from Josiah Wise's forthcoming debut full-length, soil, is a checklist of gratitudes that are easy to forget and, by extension, necessary to keep front of mind — don't succumb to cynicism, celebrate one's strengths and our loves and the vulnerabilities they require we show in order to fully appreciate. "Boy, thank you for showing me how to be gentle," he sings.
Up to now, you could argue that serpentwithfeet has been an artist's artist, co-signed by people as disparate as The Haxan Cloak (who produced his debut EP, blisters), Björk (whose "Blissing Me" he featured on last year) and Grizzly Bear (he was the opener for their most recent winter tour).
With soil, that won't remain the case. The list of producer-collaborators he drew in promises as much: Paul Epworth, Katie Gately, Clams Casino. They've given the record, as heard here, a complex but minimalist bed for his jaw-dropping, maximalist voice. It's intelligent, dense, celebratory R&B for self-actualization.
"What was once a whisper / will become a deep rumbling sound." Bless his heart.
soil is out June 8 on Tri Angle/Secretly Canadian.