Crosslegged Paints with a Multitude of Colours on 'Another Blue'

BY Sam BoerPublished Jan 26, 2023

To open up the sparse Bandcamp liner notes to her 2015 album Speck, Keba Robinson (AKA Crosslegged) wrote: "Tried some new things." To conclude the liner notes for her new album, Another Blue — arriving 8 years after her previous full-length — Robinson states: "I learned a lot." As a songwriter, composer, arranger, mixing engineer and producer, this New York-based auteur seems to have a relentless drive to dive into the unknown and keep refining her skills, continually chasing the right combination of sounds and words to articulate ephemeral feelings of hope and longing. Another Blue, an open-minded and open-hearted record, encapsulates this feeling of seeking through 10 tracks that sway, groove, and transport.

Album opener "Heaven is Real" perfectly sets the tone. Matching raucous percussive flourishes with sensitive vibraphone and punchy bass, Robinson intones "heaven's too far away / I will take you there." The desire for connection is so strong that it can transcend contradiction; Robinson sings about there being "too much to see," but is steadfast in trying to see as much of it as possible. By the time the beat in "Automatic" kicks in, you're thrilled to be on this road with her, swept up in sweet electric guitar strums and organ pads.

Instrumentally, Another Blue benefits greatly from the co-production between Robinson and Carlos Hernandez (who creates distinctive funk and R&B under the name Carlos Truly). The pair create a distinctive sonic palette for the album, in which atmospheric instrumentation is often grounded in heavier electronic beats. The percussion is particularly noteworthy — whether heavy and electronic or subtle as brushes on a snare, these elements are never expected and always elevating.

While the instrumentals are magnificent, the sonic highlight of Another Blue are Robinson's vocals. She throws her voice around with an abandon not unlike early Joanna Newsom and bites down on key words with Björk-esque flair, playing with various phrases and allowing them to linger and flourish before fading out. Robinson's lyrics often include instructive chants ("don't go back," "get up, get up, get up," "won't you up and get gone") that may seem like admonitions when written, but, through her passionate delivery, seem more like personal meditations. There's a need to keep moving, but it always feels like more of a pull than a push. It feels like seeking heaven rather than running away out of fear. Chasing the ineffable, Another Blue captures a beautiful journey. 

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