Archive for the ‘Classical’ Category

Kovacs is the name of baldy-rocking Dutch songstress Sharon Kovacs.  After the initial success of her 2014 EP, My Love, Kovacs released full length albums Shades of Black (2015) and Cheap Smell (2018), as well as several successful singles.  In 2022, she whet the European public’s appetite with four of the album’s tracks as singles (“Not Scared of Giants,” “Bang Bang,” “Fragile,” and “Goldmine”) before dropping the her third full length album, Child of Sin, in January 2023.  In a departure from her more poppy and trip-hoppy releases this past decade, Kovacs seems to have found sturdy footing in a more classical approach.  Co-written with producer Jonathan Quarmby, Child of Sin becomes an unmissable piece of art and drama.

Kovacs winnows down the guts of her stories into their most raw and pure form, and bejewels them in tinkling instruments and jaunty arrangements that center the beats of her storytelling.  There is no extraneous detail, no unnecessary layer, no excess that draws away from the white-hot heat of her bluesy vocal.  That voice!  On tracks like “Goldmine” and “Bang Bang,” she dances on rhythmic tip-toes like a Liza-esque chanteuse, breathing self-possession and ambition into every beat.  More sensitive tracks like “Fragile” and “High Tide” may recall an Amy Winehouse type of flesh.   But her pain isn’t necessarily sacred.  The choices of rhythm sound at home in a cabaret, draped in fabrics, which makes it fun and apt for repeated listens. And for all its pain, Child of Sin is transcendent. Kovacs is reliving the agonies of her youth and emerging, victorious.

The best draws of Child of Sin are the little grotesque details that become brain food for the visual listener.  “Fragile” has its own unique body horror, illustrated through her “porcelain teeth” and her body “decomposed til’ only dust is left.”  “Bang Bang” happens in the heat of the moment until you catch the premeditated detail of the plastic sheet.  Kovacs becomes her own “Love Parasite” after sensing her urges “crawling around my insides, multiplying in the dark.”  It’s this kind of attention to detail that gives her tunes their magnetism and helps expose her core. She is clearly having some fun with it all, like her own personal season of American Horror Story.

A tiny detail of hand-biting in “Goldmine” illustrates Kovacs being subjected to what might be the dominance of men withholding her cash and suppressing her talent.  Similarly in finale “Mama,” Kovacs gently rejects the overbearing maternalism from an apologetically cloying parent: “ain’t like it used to be, when I would hold your hand, and wobble on your knees.”  Kovacs unchains herself from the weights others use to restrain her, both personally and musically. “I’m controlling everything now, independently.” she says in her press release.  “Music, videos, costumes, set design, make-up, even the look of the record.”  The result is as addictive as it is gut-twisting, and wall to wall enjoyable.

Title track “Child of Sin” features a duet with Rammstein giant Till Lindermann singing from the core of the earth, telling a dual story of youth and pain.  While the story has just enough detail to leave the listener wondering about the ugliness of the protagonist’s origins, it creates just enough visual to leave me hungering for a spotlight and a sequin dress.  Kovacs, fellow baldy queen, write us a musical.  I can only imagine what you would do.

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