2019 was a banner year for Lafawndah. Ancestor Boy, released on her own imprint Concordia that spring, was met with enthusiastic acclaim. The ceaseless artist returns this year with The Fifth Season.
Inspired by her encounter with author NK Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, Lafawndah both pays homage to and extends further the elemental, emotionally charged myths of Jemisin’s books. These are stories where a broken heart can tear apart a continent. In contrast to the precision-tuned industrial productions of Ancestor Boy, The Fifth Season breathes a different kind of volatility. Inviting a new degree of spontaneity and freedom into her process, Lafawndah’s collaborators — Theon Cross (tuba), Nathaniel Cross (trombone), Valentina Magaletti (percussion), and Nick Weiss (keyboards) — encircle her confrontational character studies with iridescent, cinematic chamber-bass moves.
These are torch songs for when it rains ash, creation ballads for when the earth turns inside out. Ghosts of Art Ensemble of Chicago and Rahsaan Roland Kirk colour the air, yet Lafawndah’s mastery of pop song craft, vocal production and razor-honed clarity of purpose cut through. In addition to the Lafawndah originals, The Fifth Season features interpretations of hybrid-folk godfather Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s Don’t Despair and acid-impressionist prodigy Lili Boulanger’s Old Buddhist Prayer. Album highlight You, at the End deploys a poem by poet-performer Kate Tempest to aching, rift-tearing ends, and french dream-trap wraith Lala &ce features on closing track Le Malentendu.
Nick Weiss (keyboards)
Theon Cross (tuba)
Nathaniel Cross (trombone)
Valentina Magaletti (percussion)
Vinyl, Digital, Streaming
Honest Jon’s/The Orchard
Studio Hugo Blanzat
Caroline Poggi & Jonathan Vinel