Singer/songwriter Jillian Rose Banks (BANKS) is a private and mysterious woman. Her music though is anything but – it’s raw, intimate, from the heart and deeply personal. Her first album ‘Goddess’ showed all this and more and was a hugely impactful and confident debut from a young artist. Her follow up, ‘The Altar’ shows that Jillian Banks is an aggressive and authoritative woman. She embraces her femininity in such a positive way that it’s inspiring not only to women but men as well. She’s intense (like her music), she’s deep and more than anything she’s real.
BANKS’ vocals are one of the distinct reasons she has become a household name. The emotion she conveys through her voice is something few artists (male or female) can achieve. Some would argue her lyricism lacks complexity but like her music as a whole her lyricism is much more autobiographical and poetic – it has a journal and diary like quality to it. On ‘The Altar’ she sings personal stories about love, heartbreak and insecurities, which reflect her honesty and ability to connect to her fans. However, it’s her vocals that really stick out and have more impact than the lyrics themselves (like in her other releases).
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‘Fuck With Myself’ is one of the tracks which highlights the vocal range BANKS possesses. She contorts her voice in ways that sound so sexy and sultry, in part due to her typical throaty drawl. It’s a feminist anthem and a song anyone with self-image issues will really connect to.
‘To The Hilt’ is another vocal highlight on the LP. It strips away all the fancy production and shows BANKS at her purest – with a piano and her majestic voice.
On top of dealing with issues like love and relationships she delves into and explores her own depression on ‘Mother Earth’. As she revealed in an interview with Noisey, it was of the most emotional and cathartic songs she’s ever recorded, you certainly feel that as you’re listening to it.
BANKS and her production team do another outstanding job on this album combining her vocals with creative modern, pop R&B beats. This is evident on the album in tracks including; ‘Weaker Girl’, ‘Gemini Feed’, ‘Mind Games’, ’27 Hours’ and ‘This Is Not About Us.
Speaking of ‘Weaker Girl’, it is one of the most accessible tracks on the album. It is catchy as hell, you’ll have this song on repeat purely to hear the ‘motherfucker’ hook over and over, ‘Trainwreck’ is probably a close second in that category. What ‘Trainwreck’ does have that ‘Weaker Girl’ doesn’t is a sultry as hell hip-hop beat. Her vocals are almost rap-like as well.
‘Poltergeist’ is one of the more creative tracks on the record. Her and her production team manages to capture a spooky feel to the song that is quite special, albeit eerie at the same time.
BANKS makes music that is emotionally and physically moving, which is very much consistent with her entire back catalogue.
While her second album lacks the same immediacy and accessibility like ‘Goddess’ did it is still a great body of work – in fact it’s probably one of the best albums of 2016 so far.