A solid debut packed full of impressive tracks.
Label: Downtown / Interscope Records
Released: 31st March 2017
Not long ago, ‘mystery’ was very much flavour of the month. Every other day, a new band would “announce” themselves by almost not announcing themselves. An unusual name, pseudonyms and a band photo that was more smoke and silhouettes than people.
But, as fun as it is, mystery is also very limiting, putting a distance between the artist and the audience. Recently, acts like fka Twigs and BANKS have started to show more of themselves, dropping the mask and letting the audience in.
New York-based Valerie Teicher, aka Tei Shi likens this shroud of mystery to the crawl space she hid in as a child to conquer her fear of the dark; a claustrophobic place where the only way out is to move forward to freedom. Her long-awaited debut ‘Crawl Space’ is the once evasive Tei Shi stepping out into the light.
She has said she wants to reclaim her own creative space and own the music she produces with ‘Crawl Space’. The only issue is that much of the album reminds you of something else, whether it’s the childhood recordings that pepper the album evoking Shura’s Nothing’s Real or the slinky Solange-esque R&B of ‘Say You Do’ (which also brings to mind Neiked’s ‘Sexual’).
It’s frustrating as Tei Shi is an artist that still has the power to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Ever since her debut EP ‘Saudade’, her voice has been the key to the allure of Tei Shi. And here it’s no different. In fact, she’s never been better. Tracks like the dark and smoky ‘Your World’ and ‘How Far’ see her flexing her vocal range in stunning form.
‘Crawl Space’ is, then, a solid debut packed full of impressive tracks, but there’s always this feeling that she could be doing something more to truly strike out on her own. She’s tried to step out into her own light, but instead, finds herself in other people’s shadows. Chris Taylor