Multi-talented musical duo; Tracey Duodu and Tom Barber are the insurmountable force that make up 14th. Based in London, the pair have been making tracks and taking names since they started working together after first meeting- apparently at a dance battle in University and now with their blinding and compelling EP Hide Yourself, already being reviewed by The Guardian, it won’t be long before 14th are taking nationwide popularity in their stride alongside their already popular YouTube page.
Semi acoustic stunning vocals greet the listener at the opening of the EP title track ‘Hide Yourself’ and it doesn’t stop there. The track is stripped back to reveal Duodu’s vocal which contains a raw, soulful quality that hooks the listener into the track, already pulling them along before the electro overdub drops into place forming a solid nineties garage feel. Partnered with careful layered piano and backing vocal that makes for a classically upbeat vibe, similarly to Romina Johnson but with a depth of range and tone. Unlike ‘traditional’ UK garage, or rather more popularised garage, the track holds a depth and softness at its heart that doesn’t remove the usual adrenaline pumping tempo and style, but evens it out, which lets the listener actually hear the lyric and the heart behind it. By all means an excellent track, though might be accused of being ‘too soft’ as feels as if it could be grittier; leaving out the baseline that more hardline garage listeners might be used to.
Lights off differs in that it forms a gently moving piano melody with only a mixture of vocals, first, before the overdub. The overdub gets its own time and space to enter, just shy of noticeable; waiting until the vocals have nearly disappeared completely before dropping off to compliment an on, off, on again vocal arrangement. Barber’s vocal here is a rich quality and tone and is in perfect contrast after Duodu’s former controlled and gentle songbird essence from the previous track. The track rolls on at an even pace remaining melodic and subtle, while harmonies in the phrasing are left to be quietly electric and strengthening. If you haven’t heard this track before it’s possibly similar to that of Solange Knowles‘ recent song. Yet, far, far better produced and arranged and far neater, with a gentle unconcerned underlying rhythmic structure (because the track knows it can rely on the strength of the quality of sound) that the listener can follow pleasantly. The track keeps to the same theme throughout so that you know exactly what kind of track you are listening to.
You can be forgiven if the next track, Millionaire startles you slightly, though we could only find the remix on their Soundcloud page, the stark contrast after Lights Off, lets Millionaire showcase the level of 14th’s diverse musicality and their knowledge of the importance of an effective drop that allows the track to bask in Duodu’s beautiful echoing vocal without losing any of its zing. Being more traditionally garage focused the track has some well timed chopped up, pitch-shifting vocal samples complementing the underlying rhythmic structure. This track probably sounds a lot like that of Lulu James’ work, starting with a contained and recurring range and a very pleasant tightly focused Kele Le Roc feel to the vocal. Yet the track lagged ever so slightly towards the end. While still being a very well produced and timed piece, it seemed to be missing a harder peak (though the drop saved it somewhat) and a grittier edge that might have given the track a little more punch.
With a mix of old school feel, upbeat tone but gentle melody; strong enough to meld into the current indie music scene; these lovely lot seem to be going from strength to strength, eg. their expertly mixed version of Lana Del Ray’s ‘Ride’ which shows that not only can they create solid tracks but can recreate solid tracks and make them so unrecognisable- often the sign of a true artist.
Stream Hide Yourself
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