Vibrant young singer-songwriter Vicktor Taiwo's debut album, Joy Comes in Spirit, is at once experimental and comforting – collected shards of soul and style reassembled into something entirely new. The record introduces a bold new artist willing to take musical and lyrical risks, and to bare himself to an international audience. The result is an arresting, unforgettable work that shrugs off the expectations we have that musicians fit easily into recognizable molds.
A fearless writer, on "Letters I Wrote," Taiwò opens with a remarkable scene: "If you never see sunlight again / And the sun turns black and makes you so afraid / Can you find the light within to fight the night?" It's a note to self of course; from Joy Comes in Spirit's first note, Vicktor is mining his own psyche for its dark depths and hidden crevices, demanding from himself the sort of emotional reaction his work incites in others. Songs like "Subducta. Psalm 69," a seven-minute, multi-part epic, echo contemporary hip-hop; "tDS (Surf)" seems designed to be sung around campfires in the distant future; "Supernatural Women" traces 808s & Heartbreak back to its Zappian roots. And "Summon," one of the record's highlights, is like if you trapped a troubled spirit in a GameBoy Colour.
Vicktor Taiwò is emotionally complex. His album's beautiful closer, "Morning Joy," is redemptive, an optimistic look toward better days. It's hard not to be optimistic in the face of Taiwò's talent, the kind of which is rarely harnessed so seamlessly, and at such a young age. He'll be an artist of consequence for years to come, no matter what outside forces threaten to block his path.