The raven-haired beauty that is Tailor casually waltzed into the South African music scene in 2012 with the release of her debut album The Dark Horse. In that year she captured our attention with stellar live performances at Oppikoppi and the famed Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts, where she opened for the internationally acclaimed Yoav. Not to mention also being nominated for two SAMA awards and two MK awards in 2013. She came at us armed with a husky blues-styled vocal that were moulded around a dark pop sound that sounded like a cross between Florence and the Machine and heart-wrenching blues. Her music was unlike anything South Africans, or the world had heard, and this was proved by how rapidly the various singles off The Dark Horse climbed the charts.
The burning question that surrounded the announcement of Tailor’s new album was regarding what the album was going to sound like. She had been doing a lot of collaborative work with Locnville and there were a lot of tweets suggesting that Locnville were often in studio with Tailor and her producer and guitarist Fabian Sing. The end result of all this was Light and I am happy to report that this record serves as a meeting ground between blues, dark pop, and subtly flirtatious synth lines. It seems that Tailor has taken a leaf out of the books of Locnville’s recent music, and grown up slightly. The Dark Horse was an angst-driven and incredibly dark sounding album, whereas Light has a dark feeling to it, but it is tinged with a faint feeling of aloof euphoria. “Red Skies” seems to tackle this very topic of her previous music with the lyrics stating “Why was I so dark seven years ago?” She accepts that she has a dark past, but also accepts that her past bought her to where she is now and she wouldn’t change it.
Synth lines course through Light, they creep in beneath string instruments and piano melodies to subtly flirt with your senses. These synth lines are constructed in such a way that they give the songs a rather dark and ominous feel to them, but also give the songs an infectious nature that make the lyrics jump out at you. “I’d Die For You” is a prime example of this. The synth line is subtle and not overpowering, while a guitar lightly strums in the background, but it gives the song a buy-out quality that makes the romantic nature of the lyrics stand out. Tailor hits you with all kinds of dark images while she describes her love for somebody, especially with the lyric “if my lungs are clogged / you’ll die of a broken heart”.
While there are a couple of songs that abandon synth, namely “Burst” and “New York”, most of the songs on Light have synth featuring quite heavily on them. Many singers would often use this an excuse for synthetic manipulation to be applied to their voices to match the synth, but it is evident that Tailor refuses to use this. She rather allows her husky and sultry vocals to juxtapose the smooth and piercing synth lines, sticking to the dark pop sound for which she is so dearly loved.
A song that displays Tailor’s vocal talents is “Baby”, which also happens to be my personal favourite on the album. She delivers a remarkable performance as she breaks away from her typically husky blues voice and delivers a soaring siren-like vocal performance. A vocal performance that is sharply contrasted by Ross Jack’s hard-hitting rap vocals. “Rich Man” comes at you with a sound that begs to be remixed into a bouncy and edgy dance song. It is an upbeat track with electronic drums, seductive bass lines, flirtatious synth, and Tailor’s siren-like vocals. This is a song that Das Kapital needs to get his hands on and turn it into the ultimate club hit.
Tailor has always had a special place in my heart, and this album cements that place. In the past two years, she has grown from a sultry blues singer to the South African equivalent of Florence Welch. Her voice reaches soaring new heights and her songs hit you with even harder lyrical content than before. Light is an album that is going to allow for her most emotionally profound and hard-hitting performances to date.