It's been a hot minute since we've heard from Natasha Kmeto.
It's been four years, to be exact, since her inspiring, electro-soul full-length Inevitable came out. The album helped maintain Kmeto's position as one of Portland's leading, emotive electronic musicians. But after a few more shows and the release of her single "Pour Down" in late 2016, Kmeto retreated back into the shadows.
This week, the result of her behind-the-scenes work is coming to light. Kmeto has been putting together her new EP, Verse/Versus, which is due out Friday. Rolling through the EP's four tracks, it's apparent Kmeto labored hard on each song's construction, her voice and the tone she sought to put into each track.
Kmeto has mentioned that with the EP, she wanted more of a bedroom-pop feel, as opposed to the crafted weightiness of her previous works. Goal achieved—each track has the feeling of a late-night emotional release that some would bury deep within the pages of a diary but that Kmeto coos into a microphone. On "Eyes," she wastes no time unleashing her sultry voice. Over a slo-fi indie trap beat, she bellows, "I've been singing sad songs for too long not to know exactly what's going on," in a way that's strikingly personal.
The EP goes into an easy-on-Sunday-morning feel on "Count to 5." The song gives off an excitable Jill Scott vibe, and neo-soul tuneage is met with bated vocals on the chorus break. The track continues with its rebellion against Kmeto's former sounds, as does the EP's leading track, "Spoken Silence." In the midst of all the emotion Kmeto presents, a mild nod to '90s R&B pop keeps up the tempo.
Even with her new bedroom-pop lean, Kmeto holds on to that incredibly danceable quality that's kept her beloved within the local DJ and electronic scene. On the EP's last track, she displays her ability to synthesize her own prowess and that of her influences. Vocally, "Versus" has an incredible resemblance to SZA, especially her chorus on "All the Stars," but, musically, "Versus" sounds like a Sade classic.
It's where Kmeto's voice and instrumentation are the most tender yet have the strongest impact, and an ideal closing track that incites a craving for more. We may have to wait years, but if Verse/Versus is any indication, Kmeto's next release will be worth it.
HEAR IT: Verse/Versus is out on Friday, April 12, via Future Archive.