The content of ‘Crawl Space’ is as bold and brazen as the cover art which depicts a tarantula moving across Tei Shi’s face.
The follow-up to 2013’s ‘Saudade’ and EP ‘Verde’ (2015), this LP sonically takes a brighter path yet still manages to maintain a sense of introversion and apprehension, as highlighted by ‘How Far’, which addresses relationship struggles and the complications of being in one. “Is this a part of the game of the game?” she contemplates. It’s climatic and unapologetically conscientious. The interludes ‘Bad Singer’ and ‘Bad Girl’ feel like an accumulation of her insecurities, as a childlike voice exclaims future aspirations and personal faults.
Introspective lead single ‘Keep Running’ coasts in with relaxed synths before dropping in with a reverberating funk bassline yet still, preserves the R&B sensibilities she’s been admired for. Hence the reason it made an appearance on Billboard’s charts due to its burgeoning shares via social media. The stripped-down reggae rhythms of ‘Creep’ simmer the nerves, reworked with anodic variations.
Though compact, ‘Crawl Space’ draws the focus in on Tei Shi’s compelling and sultry vocals like never before and includes more elements of guitar. This glares throughout due to the overall minimalistic nature of the record specifically on lo-fi Americana track ‘Baby’, as each lament of her layered words mellow out and imbue fuzzy pleasures of warmth.
Succinctly, the album echoes the volatility of our existence. One that is full of questions, regrets, and confusion, but nevertheless is about finding purpose in the life we lead, even in times of uncertainty whether it’s on the political, social or personal plane.
Words: Lois Browne
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