When asked what gets under her skin, Brooklyn-based singer Laetitia Tamko has an answer: “The categories that people have for who deserves to be treated with humanity,” she tells Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, “and who doesn’t.” It’s just one of the recurring topics that the singer—who goes by Vagabon—has examined since her 2014 debut EP Persian Garden and its 2017 follow-up LP, Infinite Worlds. “Naturally, it comes up in my music,” she adds. “To have the lines be less rigid about who deserves to be treated what way, and who deserves the space to feel safe in one room versus another.” With her second full-length, Vagabon, the singer’s mission is clear: to document her triumph over self-doubt, and to create an empowering space for others.
Originally from Cameroon, Tamko honors the hard work of all the women who paved the way for her while simultaneously offering a hand to the next generation on “Every Women” with the line “All the women I meet are tired/They just kick up their feet prior/To my sittin’ down.” This theme of fellowship also connects to “Wits About You,” with Tamko rejecting any offer of success that doesn’t include her community. Amidst the calls for togetherness, the singer recalls some of the arduous experiences that helped her realize her self-worth, like the toll relationships have taken on her (“Water Me Down”) and ruminating on what could have been (“In a Bind”). The album opens and closes with “Full Moon in Gemini,” but on the reprise, the Montreal band Monako regenerates Tamko’s reflective anecdotes into an eager declaration about the singer’s future.