After listening to Sean Matsukawa for the first time last month, I found myself doing a little research in hopes of discovering more music from the LA-based artist to enjoy. It didn’t take long before that search lead me to the musical offerings of Kaiya Crawford, including the beautiful sonic experience that is ’97.
Kaiya’s sound is unique, coming through in multifarious sonic manifestations. It’s evident Crawford is influenced by a wide range of artistry but, upon listening to ’97, it becomes even more clear the talented artist is determined to carve out a vibe all her own. Her vocals are delivered with angelic undertones, the alluring and seductive essence of which accent the already comforting and engaging energy emanating from the lyrical content and production. The appropriately utilized vocal effects serve their purpose virtuously, lifting and adding well-placed distortions without ever masking the pure, ardent emotion that gleams forth throughout the 10-track project.
Thanks to the balanced production, ’97 becomes a trip for the listener, the music pulling out emotional responses as if they were reacting to enthralling storytelling. Wavy and airy yet grounding, the production – which comes courtesy of Matsukawa, Ashton McCreight and Crawford – is calmly outspoken, demanding attention despite it’s generally tranquil sound. The instrumentation becomes a vital part of the adventure, as though it was the vehicle transporting Crawford’s vocals. And, man, does Kaiya ride the instrumentals to perfection on each track featured on ’97.
The eclectic production carries with it varying energies, at times abrasive but always inviting, finding footing in a modern offering of funked up, jazzy and experimental tones. You’ll find yourself captivated by the impressively smooth transition from “Bareboned” into “Come My Way” and moving around the room to the upbeat, bouncy attitude of the Matsukawa-featured “Wetsuit”. And still, you’ll notice a peaked interest in the more digital production that encompasses “Upperhand”. Nothing sounds overwhelmingly complicated, allowing the listener to enjoy and experience the impressive instrumentation – in unison with Kaiya’s vocals – without becoming distractingly lost in the production.
In addition to the ’97 stream, I’ve included a recent visual documenting the creative process behind “Palm“, a collaboration between Kaiya and Matsukawa. Enjoy both below and support Crawford by purchasing the album here.