Some songs whisper straight through the speakers, directly to you. When a song like that is playing, it’s like there’s nothing else in the world but you and the music. It feels like a secret language you’re privy to; a message transmitted from a similar soul. Lila Drew’s gorgeous, smart, mysterious songs are like that. They don’t give up everything at once – they uncurl slowly, like a ribbon of smoke. Most importantly, Drew’s music feels like a transmission directly from her room to yours. These songs erase all distances – they’re the sound of intimacy.
“take it back,” her latest single, is a demonstration of what Drew does so well, and an example of the exquisite sound she’s crafted. The song feels familiar and welcoming, but it exists in a place outside genre: it has the hypnotic quality of dream-pop, the confessional honesty of emo, the rhythmic propulsion of R&B, and the alluring sleekness of avant-soul. As always, she’s matched her music with words of uncommon candor. Lila Drew is young – she’s still a teenager – but she’s already developed a deep understanding of human motivations. She’s applied what she’s learned to the sharp, irresistible, keenly observed locket (side one), her debut EP, and what surely will mark the beginning of a long run in the spotlight.
She’s had assistance from some of the best and most visionary producers and musicians in the business. Michael McGarity (Lana Del Rey, FKA twigs), Matt Hales (Lianna La Havas), Jeff Shum (Ella Mae), Keith Askey (Syd), and Mac & Phil (Emeli Sandé) all contributed to the sound of locket (side one), and mixing engineer Derek Ali (Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino) has made sure the blend is ideal for engendering dream-states. The EP also features a verse from the DC rapper GoldLink: another imaginative young artist who knows how to use music to generate some severely altered states.
The clip for “take it back” is a hallucination, too. The video was shot by Weird Life Films, a collective of risk-taking filmmakers who’ve become closely associated with the artistic ferment currently happening in the Midwest: they’ve made strange and alluring clips for Ravyn Lenae, Sebastian Mikael, Grapetooth, and many others. In their spot for Lila Drew, they chase a young woman around a deserted suburban neighborhood at night. Some of what she encounters there is unnerving; all of it is beautiful, bathed in vibrant colored light. Is it a dream? Or is it the kind of reverie that haunts the sleeper all day?