From the Roots Up couldn’t be a more fitting title for the debut album of newcomer Delilah. After sprouting up with a noteworthy collaboration on the Chase & Status‘ track “Time,” Delilah’s approach to music crafting is just as flourishing. Plucking the already sown seeds of soul, R&B and pop, the UK singer/songwriter plants them into fresh ground and has them bloom into new forms of aural vegetation. Her execution didn’t falter as she didn’t even bat an eye when she reworked Chaka Khan‘s 1983 classic “Ain’t Nobody” and redressed it into steamy modernique splendor by way of her debut track “Go.” Blending the recognizable verses into a dizzying mix of chilled synthesizers made for a contrasting yet titillating experience. Madame Khan herself even approved. When you have that kind of blessing, the only way is up.
Vocally, Delilah reminds one of a mesh of Aaliyah‘s “around the way girl” steeze and Sia‘s poetic coffeehouse rasps. A very tricky and oddball blend it is, but her voice takes these dual personalities on with force, bringing the intensity with the sweet. For the most part she is seductive and bold (“Go”), but will then coo as if she’s doing the Christmas pageant for the PTA attendees (“Tabitha, Mummy and Me”) — and shy away she doesn’t.
Dipped in dubstep with sprinkles of drum ‘n’ bass and trip-hop know-how, From the Roots Up is deliciously ambitious. Each song is differentiated from the last with their own personalities frothing up. This is thanks to producers Balistiq, Plan B and Syience who match Delilah with songs that challenge her vocally and mesh with her witty lyricism making everything personally all her.
Opening things up is “Never Be Another” a torrid tale of obsession that embodies clap-trap percussion and taunt hip-hop additives. “Breathe” floats around in a insulated room of strings and spaced-out synths with the decadent, “I Can Feel You” falling next in line. With tinkling music box pianos, Delilah gives an ode to uncertain adulthood on the cynical lullaby of “21.” Plucky blues guitars introduce the bubbling “So Irate” an exceptional mutant R&B number that thumps right along and is easily one of my favorite moments on here.
Delilah then redraws Finlay Quaye‘s 2004 single, “Even After All” and melts it into the mold of “Love You So” and it chugs along in percussive fanfare that is epic on arrival. Sounding the most accessible to the radio crowd is piano-pop heavy “Shades of Grey” and the jubilant “Only You,” which could be next-of-kin to anything Kiwi crooners Natasha Bedingfield or Kimbra put out.
Usually touching anything Minnie Riperton is a task, but Delilah pumps up the eroticism and carries the classic, “Inside My Love” right on her shoulders and sprints across the finish line with it. It’s a winner, and worth admission to the album alone. Like with “Go,” Delilah has no qualms about paying homage to those before her, and she does in such a way that’s not biting, but is crafted with the utmost respect for her predecessor.
With From the Roots Up, Delilah has paved a nice road for herself. She will face some steep competition this year, as she stands under the umbrella with other ’90’s R&B revivalists such as Rochelle Jordan and fellow Briton Jessie Ware. Still no qualms I have for her, especially when she’s got in her arsenal an album like Roots. Delilah gets the past and understands the present making it easy for her to go towards the future, and a blossoming one it is.