Every now and then an artist will come along carrying with her a breath of fresh air. With her third release (her second as a solo artist), Imogen Heap fuses techno with beautiful piano compositions and poetic lyrics that make your brain tingle.
Heap combines tech nerd with raw musical talent into one dangerously beautiful package. Her first release, I Megaphone, dealt chiefly with heartache and questions about God. Sonically, the album was very similar to the talent of another brunette, Alanis Morissette. Her second album as half of the duo, Frou Frou, was more techno based in a European pop style. The duo gained popularity when the song “Let Go” was featured on the soundtrack for the movie Garden State.
Heap has been compared to artists such as Kate Bush and PJ Harvey, but do not be confused, this woman has a sound and voice uniquely her own. Heap was also featured on the soundtrack for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Her song “Can’t Take It In” was used during the end credits of the movie.
Speak for Yourself seems to merge all she learned from both albums into one spectacular sonic painting.
With her current single, “Goodnight and Go,” Heap takes listeners on a melodic journey into the life of a stalker. Her lyrics are far from shallow and, on this album, deal almost exclusively with relationships. Spending countless hours in front of a computer mixing and distorting sounds to her liking, Heap recorded her entire new album in her London studio. This is perhaps what makes this mad scientist most appealing. Her talent does not lie solely in her singing or piano playing, but also in her technological ability to mix tracks and create innovative drum beats.
From the haunting vocal distortions on “Hide and Seek” to the mbira (akin to a thumb piano with metal keys attached to a wooden board) plucking on “Goodnight and Go” to the CDs thrown at a carpet tube on “Closing In,” Heap pulls you directly into her studio, inviting you into her colorful imagination.
“The Moment I Said It” is the most acoustic song on the album which fuses Heap’s soft vocals with a beautiful piano line and ethereal sounding strings and rhythms backing her. Heap is not one to compromise lyrical creativity on this album; her words are as deep and melodic as her music. The song “The Moment I Said It” demonstrates her ability to paint with sound and words. The moment I said It / The moment I opened my mouth / Lead in your eyelids / Bulldozed the life out of me/I know what you’re thinking / But darling you’re not thinking straight / Sadly things just happen we can’t explain / It’s not even light out / But you’ve somewhere to be.
This album is fresh and inventive in a mostly dull cookie-cutter pop world.