The Jungle Is the Only Way Out
There was an element of coffeehouse intimacy to the independent EPs that Marian Mereba released in the mid-2010s, reflecting the bohemian spaces where the singer-songwriter did her early performing in Atlanta. There’s still plenty of conversational intimacy on her major-label debut album, The Jungle Is the Only Way Out, during sung, rapped, and spoken-word passages alike, but the songs now seem to arrive from a dreamily meditative place. Mereba and Sam Hoffman, her core writing and production collaborator, shroud her languid vocal cadences in wafting, wordless harmonies and submerge them in reverb. They rely on delicately precise synth and guitar parts more than beats to give the tracks rhythmic motion. The approach adds melancholy dimensions to Mereba’s depictions of close identification (“Kinfolk”), romantic affection (“My One”), sexual forwardness (“Planet U”), and defiance in the face of oppression (“dodging the devil”).