San Francisco-born, New Orleans-based singer/songwriter, producer and composer Abby Diamond initially caught the attention of several blogs with her collaboration with Yugen on “Single Cell,” an icily, minimalist, slow-burning track that featured Diamond’s sultry crooning over gently strummed guitar, and off-kilter syncopated beats, which gave the song a glitchy, stuttering feel.
Diamond saw increasingly attention with a subtle yet brilliant reworking of Froyo Ma‘s “I Live All Alone” that rearranges a sample of Bill Murray’s character from Lost in Translation by having it appear within the song twice, and although Diamond’s reworking retains the original’s hypnotic and forcefully propulsive nature, her soulful vocals drifting over the mix gave the song a sinuous and sensual feel. The New Orleans-based pop artist quickly followed that up with the first single off Down, Down, Deep, “I Love To Watch You Leave,” a song that Diamond wrote when she was 19. Initially produced by her then-boyfriend Luke Todd, the track featured her coquettish vocals over a minimalist production. Producers Liam Shy and Alex Cowan assisted Diamond on a rework that managed to give the breezy original a bit of heft, as the song was given a funky, 80s-inspired R&B groove — the sort of groove that bears an uncanny resemblance to the sample on Biggie’s “Juicy” and the radio version of “One More Chance.”
Diamond’s full-length debut, FEMINISTA, which will be co-proudced by Dimaond and Blue Hawaii features collaborations with artists and producers Kyross, weirdinside and others. As Diamond told me via email, the 10 song album will be released in several parts over the course of the next 8 months or so with films, feminist zines to bring about a larger discussion about what feminism means to variety of artists across different media. According to Diamond, “Each music video that I release along with FEMINISTA will be available for download (along with other b-roll film) as well so film makers can make their own films using our footage. The album itself will be free for download online and CDs will be sold inside feminist art zines, which are being created by myself, other female musicians and artists as well as artistic fans who submit work to us. These zines will be reminiscent of Riot Grrrl and other female punk rock zines that helped spread feminist concepts like wildfire in the late 80s and early 90s. The idea is to resurrect this movement within a new context and culture—bringing feminist zines into the pop/electronic scene as a vehicle for all different women who share a similar taste in music to express what it’s like to be a third wave feminist today.” Clearly, the project aims to be bold, brash and enormous. And as Diamond told me, “I see this project as a unique opportunity to look at art through the lens of all different types of feminists.”
The album’s first single “There’s a Light in My Room” is a subtly layered production comprised of wobbling low end, skittering and stuttering beats, ominously swirling electronics, brief bursts of twinkling keys, handclaps and finger snaps that’s spacious enough to allow Diamond’s sultrily soulful vocals to gently drift over the mix. Lyrically, the song reveals a fully-fleshed out and vulnerable narrator, who longs for someone with an urgent, desperate need, and through the length of the song, the narrator walks a tightrope between asserting herself and self-doubt; the sort of self-doubt that comes up whenever anyone puts their heart on the line for another, with the hopes that their affection and desires are reciprocated — while knowing that most of the time, love doesn’t make much sense, and will often be unreciprocated.
With Diamond’s vocals bearing an uncanny resemblance to a young Mariah Carey, the song subtly seems to mesh 90s R&B, soul and pop with incredibly contemporary production in a song that sonically speaking is a marvel, as the song reveals subtle nuance on repeated listens.