Boomkat Product Review:
The UK’s most watchable label, O___o? chase aces by Dawuna, LA Timpa, Ize and Skins with another striking debut, introducing the rawly sophisticated R&B of Yorkshire/London’s Halina - RIYL Tirzah & Mica, Leila, Klein, baby_asl
By this point trust should be implicit with O___o? recruits, and clearly so with ‘The Game’; Halina’s bloozy rumination on “alienation, love and loss, adulation and anxiety” set to her tenderly tattered, bittersweet co-production with Saint Jude. Stemming from roots in Leeds and branches unfurled in SE London, Halina draws on a home background steeped in her parents’ dub reggae, soul and punk record collections to present a timelessly enchanting yet patently up-to-date brand of DIY R&B that lands ruff but smooth on the mid between Tirzah’s iPhone-backlit ballads, Leila’s still inimitable late night blooz, and Klein’s intimate collages.
We can almost hear her in flux between homeland and new surrounds as the album oscillates between songs enamoured with the big city, and also feeling lonely within it, alongside more classically bluesy turns of phrase that ache with an earthier, more provincial appeal and purview.
Best of all ‘The Game’ is an album you'll play from start to finish, with nary a skippable number in there, best to fully soak in her pathos. Observant opener ‘Moving Clout’ could almost be Leila reflecting on London clout demons, and the transition from chamber ambient to rustling breaks in ‘Fine’ ideally wraps up her knack for collage, alongside lilting strums in ‘House on Sand’ that possibly hanker for Yorkshire’s rolling scapes in relief of a precarious life in London.
‘White Lies’ is a standout centrepiece of stripped down soul that sits light but pinches on the nerves like Tirzah’s best, and the scuzz of ‘Broken Dreams’ and ‘Taste of Blood’ echo bar italia via Mica Levi. Finally she dials it all right down to smoky jazz club blues in ‘Broken Breaths’ and the gauzy keys of ‘On My Skin’ to complete a sequence that we’re sure we’ll all soon be intimately familiar with.