A protégé and kinded musical spirit of Bristol legend Tricky, newcomer Francesca Belmonte turned heads in a big way when she appeared along with Mykki Blanco on the Knowle West Boy’s “Lonnie Listen,” a striking track featuring her epic line “Exercise everyday and I’m still not fit / my kids are hungry and I ain’t got shit.”
Next month Belmonte, who also appeared on “Tribal Drums” found on Tricky’s False Idols, steps out with her full-length debut, Anima, set for release on her mentor’s label. Over the course of the album’s 15 smoldering tracks Belmonte cuts a distinctive style, one where her soulful, emotional and plaintive vocals expand and contract against a backdrop etched out with elements of soul and electronic music.
We checked in with the songstress in advance of the release of Anima to find out five of her favorite songs of the moment.
Famed Bristolian rapper/musician Tricky has been forced to cancel a few dates on his upcoming stateside jaunt. The cause? Visa issues, some of which are linked to brushes with the law he had years ago and the delay between US and UK police authorities getting on the same page. His tour upcoming tour supporting his latest album, False Idols, will now start in San Francisco at the Treasure Island Festival and conclude with a re-arranged date in New York on October 26.
“The most upsetting thing about this, whatever happens it seems like it’s me letting people down,” Tricky said in a statement. “Other people have always dealt with visas for me and it turns out that they have not advised me properly. Now I have been advised that this was going to be straightforward and easily done in time for this tour and now this has happened.”
The statement added that Tricky’s team is already working on his visa for his 2014 tour.
Tricky‘s Knowle West Boy is one of the year’s better albums. In a revealing interview with Big Shot (which appeared in Issue 23), Tricky spoke about the importance of his fans and why ego is such a dangerous thing.
Tricky’s live show is as trim as the Bristolian MC’s physique. There’s hardly any banter with the crowd or any sort of posturing, and his backing band barrels through song after song almost without a break. Like his music, the stage is dark and moody, and the spotlight never singles him out. Last night’s show at Irving Plaza was in support of Tricky’s eighth solo album, Knowle West Boy, and it had a few flaws.
The show began with Phil Collins’ “In the Air” blasting through the club’s PA while the stage was dark and absent of the man of the hour. As the song finished, Tricky and his crew took the stage and tore through a set that consisted of tracks from the new album. Curiously, he dove into one of KWB’s most somber songs, “Past Mistake,” early in his set, as he sang along with a female singer (who had decent singing chops but can’t dance to save her life). It seemed that uptempo numbers like “Puppy Toy” are indeed his newly found forte, and he appeared to be in a trance while spitting his lyrics. A Jamaican MC joined Tricky on stage to perform a cut from the new album, but it was far from the brilliant cameo his colleagues in Massive Attack typically muster up. Tricky continued his back-and-forth with his female vocalist, though much of it seemed too dramatic after a while.
The real stinker of the night was an awful cover of XTC’s “Dear God,” which appeared on 2003’s mostly dismal release, Vulnerable. Despite the night’s flaws, Tricky’s new material is some of his best work in a decade; perhaps more shows with his hired hands will help the music evolve in an organic manner. In terms of his performance, however, he’s hardly selfish: Tricky might be a superstar in some circles, but he seems completely open sharing his stage with anyone who’s on his vibe.
Words & images: Darren Ressler