Like a Woman
Released by G.O.O.D Music and produced by Kanye West, Like a Woman is Kacy Hill’s debut album. Hill’s website describes the album as “an experiment in sexuality, an immersive sex positive experience, in which Hill takes listeners into her mind and her world”. Laced with emotional, thought provoking lyrics, powerful vocals and sometimes euphoric electronica, Hill’s debut album is a great platform for the eclectic young lady to spread her wings and become a household name in pop music.
Hill fell in love with performing whilst she was a member of the Vanessa Beecroft-curated troupe for Kanye West’s Yeezus tour. After seeing the talent and charisma of Hill, West quickly signed her up. With Hills wonderful singing voice, striking good looks and appeal, it would be easy to make her into something of a cash cow. Hill could have been given a plethora of bland pop songs with little meaning or emotion, which could be made into an album to build her image and be a surefire chart topper. She could have been made into an object for the music business, simply to keep the wheels rolling for record labels.
But this is certainly not the case. Her debut album is a deep, emotional experience that really explores the thoughts and the world of Hill. As with many young women, Hill is struggling with her sexuality and allows listeners to really enter her mind and her thoughts on sex. The album ebbs and flows nicely. At some points you’ll find yourself wanting to weep, but within minutes you’re thrown into euphoria as a big chorus kicks in.
Where the album shines is, without a doubt, the lyrics and vocals. That’s not to say the music isn’t good, it’s just very simple and made to support Hills vocals. This allows the messages and interesting thoughts in Hill’s lyrics to stand out, which is what is important here. The album could have gone extremely wrong. Ketchup could have been smothered all over Hills voice and the electronica could be amped to the max, which would totally detract from the experience Hill wants the listener to have. How many times have you found yourself humming along to the latest chart toppers in the car, without actually knowing the lyrics or even caring enough to decipher a meaning in them? When lyrics are as emotional as Hill’s, they should be placed on a pedestal and that is what the music does here.
The first singles from the album were released in May 2017, Like a Woman and Hard to Love. Like a Woman, produced by DJ Mustard, DJ Dodger Stadium and Terrace Martin, is a slow, piano-side number, which kicks off the album in the right light, showcasing Hill’s powerful vocals. As ever, the lyrics carry much more weight than a simple pop song: “What makes you make me feel like a woman? /I’m saying things that I thought I wouldn’t/And now you cut me, remind me of my beating heart”. It is telling that the first line of the album asks a question. Hill wants listeners to question themselves and think about what she’s saying, not just subconsciously listen to a simple beat whilst carrying on with the day’s errands. This is an album worth sitting down and really listening to.
This first track is in stark contrast with the second single Hard to Love, produced by Stuart Price and Oskar Sikow. This track really channels Hills inner pop star. It starts slow and builds into a euphoric chorus, which is a little elevated on the volume dial than the previous three tracks on the album. As the track built up, I was fearing the worst, expecting a horribly loud chorus that drowns out Hills lyrics, but her vocals still shine strong right throughout the track, continuing with keeping Hill’s voice as the central attraction, not the electronica. Again, the lyrics are wonderful and thought provoking: “And you whisper replies that hovers so weightless/ String all their lies between our faces, now/ And you make it hard to love”.
The album primarily consists of slower numbers with quiet, simple beats underlying her vocals such as in Static and Keep Me Sane. The quietest number is perhaps First Time, which really just has a simple drumbeat and some synth until the chorus when it’s all turned up a little.
This is where the album falls a little short. Some of the slower tracks start to sound similar. They follow the same pattern of having a slow beat in the background, which builds to a louder chorus full of synth. Although I do agree with the way the music is made to simply underlie Hills voice, upon my second and third listening to the album I began to feel as though the tracks were all merging together, there was no real feeling that I was listening to a number of different tracks at certain parts of the record; it often felt like one long track.
That said, louder, more upbeat numbers such as Hard to Love and Arms Length are placed very well in the album right at times where it may be in danger of growing a little stale if it were to continue with the quiet tracks. Arms Length, which was released in October 2015 on Hill’s debut EP Bloo is a standout. Hill seems to be singing about being in a relationship that is based solely on sex: “You come and go and you’ll stay as you please/ Convinced a moments time is all that I need/ These temporary highs can’t make me believe/ That your feelings are true”. Despite the meaning, it’s an uplifting track that is a timely breath of fresh air at that point of the album.
There is a little interlude before Clarity which, at times, is quite a darker sounding track. Hill sings at points in the song with a rather haunting tone, which she really nails. Those haunting vocals return at times with the tracks final number Am I, which is absolutely welcome. I found Lion to be one of the more interesting tracks lyrically on the album as it is written from the perspective of the lover in a relationship who is the one who has done wrong, but is “in your arms one more time”. “Tell me why you’d want my love when I give you none?/ Both your eyes are on my heart after all I’ve done”, It’s an interesting perspective, as usually emotional pop songs are from the perspective of the heartbroken individual, rather than from the heartbreaker themselves.
You may have picked up that I am not a fan of a lot of bland pop music made to appeal to the masses. I came to review this album ready to pull it apart, but I have been pleasantly surprised. What this is is a deep, emotional album that really captures Kacy Hill, with her deep lyrics and evocative vocals. Hill has a very bright future, and this is an album certainly worth your time, just make sure you sit down with a cup of tea and listen to what she has to say. It’s not without its flaws and can feel a little repetitive at times, but the music is just right to allow Hill to showcase her talents and not make her into a cash cow for business. It’s a very strong album and I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on her career.