Kimbra – A Reckoning (Album Review)

Following your arrow and finding happiness has never been such a Sisphyian effort as in our current times. So, what is a fiercely independent spirit to do? New Zealand’s Kimbra just might have the answer in the form of A Reckoning, which is slated to be self-released on Friday, January 27, 2023.

The two-time Grammy Award-winning Kimbra is somebody that you probably know: she is the proud owner of the gorgeous voice that shared the spotlight alongside Gotye on 2011’s smash hit single, “Somebody That I Used To Know.” But she’s no second fiddle! The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist released her debut record, Vows, that same year and has gone on to deliver 2014’s The Golden Echo as well as 2018’s Primal Heart.

Now our versatile, sassy, candid, and primal heroine is shifting into the next phase of her musical career with A Reckoning. Co-produced alongside Son Lux’s Ryan Lott, who also appears on the record, the 10-song collection sets out to find healing—for its creator as well as each listener. A genre-defying exercise in self-reflection, it seeks catharsis and connection and provides a reminder that our own struggles can weigh just as heavy as the wars being fought around us.

There are no limits to where Kimbra will travel throughout A Reckoning. The initial electronic bass that paints the ominous landscape of “save me,” into which Kimbra’s sultry vocals make a languid entrance, will eventually switch to something Synthpop, peppered with moments that feel Tori Amos-esque. It’s a juggling of aural textures, one that perfectly complements the song’s blunt confessions, lyrics such as  I’m sinking into my feelings and I might look capable, but I’m not.

But throughout, Kimbra will go onward to search for the heroine within. From testifying to the importance of her personal needs and alone time (“personal space”) to admitting that it’s okay not to desire the glitz and glam of places like Hollywood (“la type”), she is careful to paint an empowering narrative. So, in this, do not expect A Reckoning’s trials and tribulations to be an emotional sedative.

Instead, the record finds its self-empowering affirmations set to the exploration of a million sounds. From the bass-heavy, Missy Elliott feels of “replay!” to the straightforward Pop of “the way we were,” everything you can imagine is here. Electronic brass embellishes the thump of “new habit,” while the relative simplicity of tracks such as “foolish thinking,” a duet with co-producer Lott, allow Kimbra’s exceptional vocals and heartfelt lyrics to take center stage.

This poignancy balances well with the provocative imagery (“gun”) and wit (“glt”) found in small doses, as well. The latter, featuring Erick the Architect as the failed and indifferent lover, demands respect, while the former is the closest that the album will get to a Rock-n-Roll offering. But it all culminates with the rawest selection, “i don’t want to fight,” whose grand orchestral moments close the album with one final exposure of heart and soul.

A Reckoning, as delicate as it might seem, finds its strength in its unguarded approach. Both uncensored and unforgiving in its sonic compositions, as well as its open heart take on lyrical content, it is a statement of Kimbra’s intent to continue to blaze her own path. Though much as the record is deeply personal, it is also universally relatable. In fact, while many of her contemporaries choose to paint images of hapless maidens fumbling in despair, A Reckoning foregoes this nonsense and creates an empowering narrative, one that allows for growth, strength, respect, and the ability to maintain one’s own identity—even in the face of a “ride or die” romance. For all of the above, Cryptic Rock applauds Kimbra and gives her latest 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Kimbra – A Reckoning / Self Release

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