Sarah Kinlaw is a New York-based composer, choreographer, multimedia artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, known for multimedia productions and collaborations with Devonte Hynes (a.k.a Blood Orange), Caroline Polacheck, SOPHIE, Dan Deacon and others that feature as many as 200 performs. Kinlaw is also the co-founder of acclaimed JOVM mainstay act Softspot.
The New York-based multidisciplinary artist fully steps out into the limelight as a solo artist with her solo recording project Kinlaw — and the project’s full-length debut The Tipping Scale reportedly finds them showcasing their work in a new light. Lyrically, the album’s material bridges the deeply personal with universal themes, revealing a songwriter exploring loss, regret, confusion, strength, identity and change. Kinlaw explains that the album’s tittle is an ideal metaphor for the album, the idea of an ever-present slipping in and out of change, and an acceptance of this kind of change.
Kinlaw’s solo debut also reportedly finds them unifying their multidisciplinary practice: Initially writing material with the goal of finding entry points that felt honest and authentic to their practice, they frequently saw their music relating directly to motion: “I would start with a gesture and let it build into something until a memory attached itself to it,” the New York-based artist explained in press notes. “The memory would become a story and the story would reveal itself as something important that needed to be expressed in this album.”
Sonically, the album’s material is generally centered around Kinlaw’s gorgeous and expressive vocals, slick electronic production and a refined, compositional sensibility with ornate flourishes. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month or two, you may recall that I’ve written about two of The Tipping Scalet‘s previously released singles:
- “Blindspot,” a slow-burning and dramatic track featuring Kinalw’s yearning and ethereal crooning paired with shimmering synth arpeggios and stuttering beats.
- “Permissions” a track inspired by physical movement that evokes a rapidly vacillating array of emotional states including confusion, heartache, self-flagellation and despair as its narrator seemingly is in the middle of a difficult conversation with themselves.
“Haircut,” The Tipping Scale‘s third and latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around reverb-drenched and ethereal instrumentation including shimmering synth arpeggios and bells. Kinlaw’s gorgeous vocals cut across the song’s instrumentation. Interestingly, without percussion or beats to keep time, the New York-based artist’s melody feels like an intimate monologue, revealing its narrator’s inner world with an unvarnished honesty: the song narrator seems to recognize their power and powerlessness simultaneously.
“I cut my hair to confuse myself,” Kinlaw says of the album’s latest single. “It started as a mission to change who I was, to make a new and better version, but ended with my feeling like I no longer knew what I was mourning. ‘Haircut’ is a question of personal power, and even speaking on this song today has been challenging because it was written when I was unsure if I had any power left. I think ‘Haircut’ can be a lot of things to many different people, particularly those who identify with the juxtaposition of in-depth, internal dialogue paired with everyday coping strategies. There is a sweetness to it, but also such substantial, unwavering difficulty. Today, I prefer to think of ‘Haircut’ as an anthem of resilience and an ode to the ways we keep going, we shapeshift, and we reinstall that there is a way to find what it is we are hoping to find.”
Directed by Dance Lawyer, the recently release video for “Haircut” is a cinematically shot and surreal fever dream set at a suburban backyard: We see a collection of people frozen in accusatory and regret poses while a Kinlaw, dressed as a menacing mine in a white and blue dress expressively mimes and dances to the song.
The Tipping Scale is slated for a February 19, 2021 release through Bayonet Records.