"Safe spaces" can be hard to come by when you're a POC artist — especially in predominantly white music communities — but when Cameroon-born artist Laetitia Tamko moved to New York city, she began to find nurturing communities that felt loving, supportive and more inclined to embrace her for who she is.
Tamko, who goes by the alias Vagabon, is a multi-instrumentalist with a knack for poetic storytelling, a gift that proves effective as she channels her experiences on her striking debut album, Infinite Worlds. Across these eight songs, Tamko both waxes intimate, telling tales of self-doubt and introspection, and stands tall, giving her fearless take on genre-surfing rock anthems delivered with gusto, shifting between savoury punk-rock belting and gritty yet harmonious vocals.
"I've been dying to go / This is not my home," sings Tamko on "Fear & Force," a wistful acoustic jam that ascends into lush synth flutters, brushing elbows with grungy reverb and steady kick drums on occasion. The feeling of instability isn't yet shaken on "Minneapolis," but the track's sludgy, whirlwind guitars and murky bass lines provide the perfect backdrop for Tamko's continued protests.
After the atmospheric pop one-off "Mal á L'aise" fades into a dreamy, six-minute jaunt, "Cleaning House" takes a reflective leap into a personal conversation, presented in song form, about personal agency and our ability to assert ourselves, even in complicated situations. The record ends with "Alive and A Well," a moment of complete selflessness in which she bares her soul over acoustic licks and hissy feedback.
Much like Solange's A Seat at the Table, Infinite Worlds offers several platforms for Tamko to navigate blackness, personhood, love and safe spaces on her own terms. Challenging the perception of shared space and visibility, Tamko has released the perfect record for women of colour who, unbeknownst to some, have been secretly shredding harder then white men for years, and are finally ready to be heard. (Father Daughter)